i.m Rude Hrvatin
Dropping jokes like shelled nuts along a path
only he can discern, my wife's uncle
takes us past stands of oak and wild cherry
beyond the shy village with one surname,
greeting women who are bent over furrows
or walking home with hoes over their shoulders.
(I’m thinking of protracted paddocks
squared away in shire offices
Drinking from a creek, he shows us how to fish
making traps with his fingers splayed among the dark roots.
In its bachelor’s austerity his house huddles around
a voracious stove; outside
things are dried, ground, fermented, hung,
threshed from the carapace of their forms.
(I’m thinking of the dishevelled rout
of my splintered firewood, unsure of the grain,
persuasion bouncing off the resinous core)
Not speaking his language and he not speaking mine,
we never exchange a word, like silent actors
losing our careers over the edge of sound
but I do have his recipe for applewine:
the removal of lees, clarification, dealing
with the must, the final racking and decanting
(I’m thinking of the self on display
in dark aquaria of conferences and offices)
the trick, he explains to my wife,
being in the patience to distil
and then to distil again.
Newcastle Poetry Prize anthology 2008