An exuberance of swallows circle the waning afternoon glow:
Plunging, veering, flashing upward and again.
Sometimes the fluttering flick of wings
All but kisses my cheek
As I lie

On the grass,
Cloud watching.
Breeze and breezing by,
Is it the wind lifting my hair
As it gathers, weaves, teases the high wisps overhead,
Or have the birds become bolder still?

For the same lofty airs carry them,
Shaping their dances into feathery clouds
Shading ants, spears of grass, fallen leaves,
And I,
As I lie

On the grass,
Cloud watching.
Closing eyes,
Cloud listening,
Feeling my heart pulse with the whirring
Cicada chorus in full voice,
Swelling to roaring chant,
Thinning into whispers
As airy as the white wisps above.

And new melodies take wing,
Antiphonal chitters, wave on wave of susurration.
Is it the insect opera again,
Or have the heavens begun to sing?
Exhaling, vocalising
In a language on the horizon of my understanding,
Just beyond reach as I strain to catch the sigh
As I lie

On the grass,
Cloud breathing.
On the grass,
Cloud listening.
On the grass,
Cloud watching.


Milson Island is Darkinjung country, on the Hawkesbury River in New South Wales, Australia. I was there as volunteer staff for a creative arts camp – with a lively schedule of workshops, rehearsals, social activities and generally spectacular fun. It’s a beautiful place for a creatives gathering.

Worked into every day’s routine was 30 minutes ‘Unplugged‘ – personal reflection time – when across the island, the voices and instruments and dancing and making paused, to practise stillness.

In one day’s ‘Unplugged’, I lay back on the grass, mesmerised by the birds above me and the almost-but-not-quite bare blue sky above them; tiny clouds waxing and waning in the steady breeze. It prompted these thoughts, and reminded me again how important it is, as a creative, to also create margin in my life for reflection, meditation, stillness.

All photos by author.

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