Time erodes all our certainties,
and in the same way the future which
has a habitation and a face.
It’s just like a busy street
when your footfalls echo
a distant friend’s, and it’s raining
all over some far-off Saturday
and the effect is rather ghostly.
I talk about inward things and here
you imagine outward ones,
yet not an actual street to walk down.
Let’s say the rain is sweeping in long
flat sheets close to the ground. Horizontal
rain, at first furious, then just
a scribble, falling ‘naturally’
as the wind drops to a breath. It’s the street
of a country town you always think of,
that you’ve always wanted to imagine,
so nondescript yet particular
it’s actually alive.
There are yellow trees
and apples ripen behind wooden fences.
A lot needs mending – garages, the sky,
a torn curtain. There’s a distant factory
surrounded by wire and tarpaulins,
a motel in black, with covers on its one TV.
A lover swims to meet you here,
through rain and over endless paddocks,
where winter is a history of gentle, diffident
emotions the silos cannot hold – grain through their hands,
light seeping through their fingers.
Distant voices compose beyond a pane,
the others about a coffee urn. One holds her face
a little to the side, like a miniature
blue rose. And when night falls it sweeps
aside the curtains and empties an afternoon of embers.
I should try to smile more often. My frown has become
a permanent line on my lips that says little
or nothing. What can you do with it, what use
a smile evaded? Or up-market emotions I cannot afford
in my old jalopy? Raindrops fall at our feet now,
and down the car’s glistening sides.
A puddle of light pockmarks the street.
Softly or alone, these words are worlds
of amber, glass and a liquid piano,
chosen for their effect or cadence.
Alone, each falls, together now.
The air is pushing us about
and that is typical of starting out.
Arriving, they say, is ‘something else
again’, the will a bright blue field
into which the weather disappears.
Night fades too, and the filaments
that just touch your cheek, air dancing
around your eyes’ soft windows. The gravel
beneath your boots is wet, and there’s no time
for their tiny rhapsody above tired linoleum.
We are suddenly above valleys where the young
still daydream, and farmers leave their lives
for a song – chickens in the straw, baby in a bonnet.
One by one, beyond our ‘arts’ and willing hands,
all the cars are leaving, the caravans too.