Barbara Temperton’s Night Camp describes a moment of deep spiritual connection with the country but also with the night sky above. The country it describes is deep in the South-West corner of Western Australia – a region that stands in sharp contrast to the vast, arid majority of the state. The initial accompaniment figure that moves from a stretched interval into a single note is a musical device I often use – in this case it aims to reflect the gradual conjoining of the terrestrial and the astronomical.
Night Camp for Soprano and Piano
Nocturnes for Soprano, Clarinet and Piano
Blackwood for Soprano, Clarinet and Piano
(i) Night camp
We are strangers, again. I’ve been away.
Galahs fret in the trees at creek edge,
ore train sighs through the membrane of sleep,
the bush is haunted by night.
Beyond our clearing carpeted by gravel,
we sought passage along lifelines of scars.
Our palms imprinted with spinifex spines,
how can we know each other in the dark?
We plot courses with the tips of our fingers
across the contours of our bodies,
compasses confused by magnetic north,
we’ve no light to read our maps by.
Then, in a moment – the blink that passes
between one awakening and another –
constellations shift in the vault of Heaven:
satellites shed ballast, comets semaphore from the ether,
the firmament is spanned by a river of stars.
© Barbara Temperton. Reproduced with permission