Sublimated through our thought by John Kinsella


In the spring of 2001, Australian poet John Kinsella was published in the Prairie Schooner.  His poem “Sublimated through our thought” mentions both “blokes working the Hundred Acres” and “…the Concorde / break[ing] the sound barrier.” In a strange coincidence, these two things are related outside of Kinsella’s poem.

On October 14th, 1926, Winnie-the-Pooh was first published. Created by A. A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh and his many friends are denizens of the Hundred Acre Woods, where they live with Christopher Robin, who was based on Milne’s son. On October 14th, 1947—twenty-one years, to the day, after the publication of Winnie—American pilot Chuck Yeager became the first human to break the sound barrier. October 14th also was the date of the Battle of Hastings, fought in 1066, between the Normans and the British; depicted on the famous Bayeux Tapestry, this was the last time Britain was successfully invaded.

As for Lincoln, Nebraska, October 14th has been as toasty as 91°F (in 1897) and as chilly as 24°F (in 2006); its record one-day precipitation took place in 1888, with 0.86 inches of rain.

by Tory Clower

John Kinsella

Sublimated through our thought

You reconstruct your past
through ads in weekend liftouts
or the odd Australian novel
that finds its way onto an English shelf,
assuming the subject matter “Australian,”
which is a safe assumption to make.
A warm day, a sharp frost,
a stretch of empty moorland in the North,
might prompt your “memory.”
As farm machinery invests and dissects
the peaty soil of the fens
the reddish clay of the past
turns to dust or puddles like vats
of blood during flood. You pick up
on hearsay in a local pub,
or an aboriginal myth reconstructed
by an educational publisher,
“sublimated through our thought.”
What remains the same
no matter the place, is the gutted sheep,
the dogs among the entrails.
Though the heat intensifies
            A cousin rides her horse
out to the blokes working
the Hundred Acres, their tucker
cool in her saddle bags.
Space is expansive and concentrates
her gender. Aborigines stook in families
and one of the white blokes
jokes about wine flagons turning to water,
he thinks his laughter pristine and expansive,
brilliant enough for any locality.
In the fens dialect is lampooned
and a bunch of lads sing karaoke,
forgetting their prejudices.
Somewhere, the Concorde
breaks the sound barrier
and modernity instills itself
as memory, an afterthought.