The rhino is the ‘headline’ species for a much wider threat to the whole of the natural world – the “immense, unknown life / going on around you, within you” – and this threat  is the subject of award-winning Australian poet Andy Kissane’s wonderfully moving poem ‘Flight’.


Sometime in June or July, throw on a cable-stitched
grey jumper or even a thick coat for warmth,
take the afternoon off and head out past Kurnell
to Cape Solander. There, on the white sandstone cliffs
above the vast flood, look for humpbacks
heading north, swimming near the shore
to dodge the ocean current sliding south.
Witness, if you’re lucky, a whale breaching—
the corrugated whiteness of its wobbly ascension,
the dark certainty and blazing glitter of its fall.
The cold breeze ruffles the diamond quilt
until it’s as messy as an unmade bed, it tugs
at the waving tendrils of spear grass and at the tips
of your ears, it makes your eyes water
as if some old sadness has unexpectedly taken hold.
You can find no sign of a sea eagle, hovering;
you cannot name the endangered species
growing in this headland heath. But you can close
your eyes, you decide to do this simple thing,
electing to completely miss the whale if it rises again,
aware now of this immense, unknown life
going on around you, within you, as the buffeting,
lunging wind picks you up and gives you wings.

Andy Kissane

‘Flight’ comes from the collection Radiance by Andy Kissane (Puncher & Wattmann, 2014)