I was listening to Hawkwind’s Quark Strangeness and Charm
in the machinery shed on the farm –
an inheritance of bones in a belt of wheat
the day space junk fell to earth.
I thought the stylus had hit scar tissue on the record
I’d dusted off and pressed into service.
I could see a blur of windmill blades
like the recommissioned fan
of an everglades boat. We were ten years into a drought.
I was no stranger to the wonders
of cosmic travel, or being the beneficiary
of what land and sky can offer.
My geologist uncle once held, at arm’s length, a rock
like a warped planet
in some cottage industry orrery.
Meteorite, he said, tracing the raised
heat-scars with his thumb. Another time he placed
a mottled grey stone in my palm:
You are now being X-rayed by uranium.
I left the shed and walked out into shape-
shifting waves of heat like footage of a crematorium
in full production.
I found twisted metal frames
and cables like a melted cross-
section of the cardio-vascular system. Wildflowers
were in bloom.
What had fallen was scattered
like abandoned sculpture
among everlastings and Queen of Sheba orchids.
One of Skylab’s solar
wing panels was caught in a fence,
its busted mirrors
throwing bits of light like code for an emergency.
It seemed the atmosphere that day
had been arranged
by astral choreography. A lenticular cloud
was stalled overhead like a bell, and the wind
contained sounds
of industry, despite the farm
being fifty miles from town.
I called the authorities, then waited on the verandah,
watching the road for dust.

Anthony Lawrence is a contemporary Australian poet and novelist. Lawrence has received a number of Australia Council for the Arts Literature Board Grants, including a Fellowship, and has won many awards for his poetry, including the inaugural Judith Wright Calanthe Award, the Gwen Harwood Memorial Prize, and the Newcastle Poetry Prize (three times). His most recent collection is Headwaters (Pitt Street Poetry) which was awarded the Prime Minister’s Literary Award for Poetry in 2017.