Holbrook

As if to emphasise the artifice of location

the town’s outskirts barely serve as that:

the stillness of things happening elsewhere.

 

Bales of shade stacked under the long verandahs.

Children from the station-wagons ticking by the kiosk

cling like aphids to a submarine that rears

above the carpark, heading out to where

cows are consulting the stringybarks.

 

                        Three o’clock.

Heat rises like fumes from bowsers, the brick

bulk of the Boys’ Club.  A straw baker

slumps against yesterday’s blackboard specials. 

Between the antiques emporium and the stock agent,

the hotel, propped high on its forepaws,

watches the fences behind the mechanics’ institute

scraping paddocks into stubbled schemes.

Willows lean in veteran etiquette towards

an advertisement for tea that occupies the whole side of a house,

confident as its era of brown satchels labourers used to carry for their lunch,

bands on shunters’ fedoras.

 

If we no longer see miracles performed, it may be

because we no longer haggle with divinities. 

My grandfather, believing the sun had to shine

on its birthday, at least once, always saw it shine

on a Thursday, and here it is!  A monstrance for the route

sharp and high as the lovely, keen places

of the mind, as if the sky were a mirror, shattering

in the sparks from a welder’s torch that flare

from a dark doorway.

                        Look around, look up:

the sun ploughs the absurdities of destination

and departure, becomes a rotunda, a point

to the highway’s exclamation mark.

 

In the rear-view mirror, the stars are wound

from west to east, a glimpse of thunderclouds

shucked like a tarpaulin from the distant ranges

as if the sky had frayed

revealing what was

and what is to be

receding darkly

beneath.

San Pedro River Review, August 2011