To the Coming of Autumn in Ballina

The west wind blows the wet away
and sings you in, soft Autumn.

So, hum your Southern strains on murmured breaths
that weave the mist with dew to blanket Buckombil,
like native bees whose stingless waltz
creates the sugar-bag.
It’s here you’ll fruit the fig to feed the wampoo dove.

Those eastern coastal lows can make you moody,
and, playing hot and cold,
you’ll chase the Richmond River
through swollen banks,
down past the satin bowerbird’s last fling
to mackerel runs that churn the nets
and pull the gannets in.

When evening comes, you’ll rest among the paperbarks,
on glinting fingers from an early setting sun
beside a noisy friarbird
who, drunk with nectar, preached your sermon
above the frog-mosquito choir.

© 2022 Carl Heriot

Author’s Note:

Ballina is a place on the north coast of New South Wales in Australia. Buckombil is a ‘mountain’ in the Ballina region. Richmond River runs down to the coast through Ballina

Sugar bag/ Sugarbag/ Sugar-bag is an Australian term for the hive and honey of native Australian bees (that are stingless).

The Wampoo Dove, Satin Bowerbird, Noisy Friarbird and Gannets are all birds of the region. The last mating of the Satin Bowerbird is early Autumn, the Gannets are drawn by mackerel (that you can hear teeming in the water), the Paperbark trees nectar draw the ‘honeyeaters’ (including the Noisy Friarbird).