by Jamie McKendrick

for Michael Hofmann

The magician Márquez had a dread of gold
and wouldn’t wear it. But here I am sitting through
Aussie Gold Hunters – that’s enjoyed a lockdown
boom, perhaps for the lure of hidden treasure, or because

these stubbly mates have put their lives on hold
to scour a red desert under a cruel sun,
waving a stick that hums then gives a wail of hope
for what – a bug-sized nugget or a rusted can?

Just yards away in the unprospected zone
– if only they’d swerved instead of keeping straight –
lies a buried glory which they’ll never find.

They could almost be poets, the way they
trudge cussedly on, quite oblivious
to all the dross and mess they leave behind.