How to Build a Road

Get out your plan
and draw a line
from Kwinana Freeway
through the wetlands
to Stock Road.
You will build this road
come hell or low water and
whatever the future of the port will be.
After all
the PM loves roads
only roads
not rail
and Barnett knows best.

Hammer the houses
trash the bushland
boot out the bandicoots
scatter the birds
they don’t drive trucks
they don’t even vote.

Rip out the flora
shatter the silence
sink the pylons
scuttle Roe Swamp
it’s only a sumpland.
String up your bright lights
to show the way.
The frogs won’t really mind.

Don’t plan too far
no worries
about the problems ahead
those bottlenecks
past High Street
something will come up
she’ll be right.
After all
the PM loves roads
only roads
not rail
and Barnett knows best.

The shag net

Hundreds of birds
fly fast and low
skimming over the water
wings waving like
flapping flags flying.
Suddenly the front line
slows and slips
into the water
diving question marks
as they curve and plunge
one row after another
the water swirls
and they surface again
one row after another.
The pelicans follow
dipping and scooping
with their pouchy beaks
deep down
as they lift their wings
clear of the water
to keep them dry.
The shags stand on the rocks
or the river wall
wings outstretched to dry.
The pelicans rest beside the river
rows of oval shapes
pouchy beaks tucked in
under large white wings.

Copyright Sandra Roe

The view of Forrestdale Lake from the boardwalk

The path came through fringing paperbarks
over squelchy ground
too boggy and wet to walk on.
A band of rushes
light straw colour
an exotic weed
infests the circle edge.
A strand of blue water
reflects the sky.
Distance hazes the view.
On what appears to be a sand bar
in the centre
stands a line of black swans
around forty or fifty of them
familiar shapes
beloved black density
shimmering in early spring light
some standing still
others flashing white under wings.
Another blue line
behind the sandy shallows
leads to the band of trees
on the other side
and the wide blue sky.

Thomsons Lake

This time I know the way in
through the gate
in the vermin fence.
The rough track goes down
towards the water
and encircles the lake
but fringing rushes
block my way
to the edge.
It is too far
a very long walk
to the other side
and the bird outlook.
I am alone
and feeling unwell
I cannot make the distance
and I pause with my camera
to console myself
with the arum lily glory
the vermin weed
under the gum tree.
But a quick rustling
and between the rushes
and the gum tree
six kangaroos bound past.

Copyright Sandra Roe

Forrestdale Lake Reserve near Perth, Western Australia

The Arum Lillies look pretty but they are a serious weed in south west Western Australia.  Farming around Forrestdale Lake (about 25 km south of Perth) began in 1893, and in the 1920s sheep and cattle grazing took over from agriculture. During the 1940s the west side of the lake was heavily grazed by livestock, particularly during the dry summers when the lake’s fringing vegetation served as supplementary fodder.  As a result, the land on the west side of the lake (pictured here) lacks native understorey plants and is infested with introduced plants such as these arum lillies.


Swan River 2

Noongar fishing hunting
talking camping lighting fires.
Europe in boats
looking naming assessing
watching five hundred black swans
rising stirring wings
settling townships
bludgeoning black swans
while breeding and moulting
dumping refuse and sewage
into shallows
setting the brewery by the river
for water and transport
and dumping waste
reshaping the river
against flooding
for boat access
and more dry land
for cropping and building
removing the mouth’s rocky bar
making the harbour
the estuary more salty
building retaining walls
reducing shallow habitat
pouring scum and ooze
from the power station
reclaiming more land
for the freeway and interchange
ongoing community action
cleaning and conservation
retaining some pockets of original vegetation
fringing forest, salt marshes and rushes
banning bird shooting
establishing swanneries
restoring the icon
all waterbirds are now remaining
if reduced in number
three habitats for wading birds
Point Waylen at Alfred Cove
and Pelican Point.

Copyright Sandra Roe

Swan River 1

Remnants of ancient rivers
chains of salt lakes
remain beyond the Darling Range.
The Avon
a new river
left the raised Yilgarn Plateau
and fell into the rifted valley
to become the Swan
flowed onto the coastal plain
carved out Perth Canyon
the broad deep abyss
now out there
and the sea level moved and moved
back and forth
until at last
Rottnest became the Island
and the sea water
drowned the scoured river valley
to form the Swan River estuary.

Copyright Sandra Roe