This light is for saints, silk,
washerwomen and pomegranates
tablecloths like marzipan waterfalls,
a plein air in which you have set your easel,
made an inventory of the afternoon’s offerings:
babies in palanquins parked
before gold and crimson precincts,
a bride as she gathers her train,
collecting hopes or clouds.
Reflections of the opposite shore
slide over the silver water
like a sheaf of photographs emerging from a tray.
Buildings of state scud like spinnakers.
A little plaque reminds those
who wander onto the soggy lawn
that a sculpture was erected, then buried there,
a standing interment,
a child’s game dressed up as a concept: there but not there.
Like the traffic’s noise that sidles like a bookie
through the reeds growing in clusters nearby,
the sculpture still has a presence
at least in the lawn’s languid decline
even if what was momentarily feted on its green plinth,
its mocking notion, is unremembered
by picknickers in a tapestry of chamomile and pigeons
or those watching the pageantry of parasols
between pavilions open to the heat.
Returning late, light slants across bollards,
leans over the little bridge as if watching
the metal herons probe
the flagged path winding its way back
to the entrance. A camellia
gleams at my feet as if a star had slipped
from the night’s icy, black lake.
Commended, Melbourne Poets Union Poetry Competition 2014