His palm was her country

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Bird in hand

Mute Morning

i.m. Carol Hogan
 
I woke in a strange dream of a priest
who pitied the child born to the mother
no longer a nun. From the pew behind
I was the I that spoke up to power.
 
When I woke, the light was soft, grey
with a promise of rain. But on the ear
the camellia—with its early winter splashes
of deep pink—squawked the squawk
 
of a wattlebird, answered from the next
yard. I wrote you a card, knowing I would
not see you again in this, the only transience
we have. Dressed and breakfasted, I walked
 
for forty minutes to the beach—and back—
where the sea and sky bled into each other
a wash of blue and grey, a tone I recalled
from the stained glass florets of a Mary
 
window. I posted the card on the way,
not knowing you had already died.
 
Black and white
 
Black smudges beneath the eyes of the white
dog fall, like tear-wet mascara. His walker’s
eyes are kohled. She is an Egyptian deity
with the look of Greater Frankston. I, too,
have it—the appearance that invites offers
of Dead Sea masks in the middle aisle
of the Bayside Shopping Centre. Last week
 
she picked handfuls of moult from his belly.
Clumps of white fur composed a still life
on the path with possum scats and leaf-fall,
as I hurried for the city train. Magpies in their
livery were sorting their song sheets for the
morning chorus. Overhead, beak dipping
into the insulator, a mynah breakfasted.
 
The look
 
He saw the god in the bent-winged chick
that he carried and fed
 
with fruit and grain. The cage
he had not built for her
 
hung from the sky,
was without a door. Open
 
his palm was her country. She was quiet
there. Her feathered skin
 
and pulsing breast,
taken together, said
 
bird. Though flightless, she was made for
flight. Her bright beads
 
met his eyes with
a knowledge air gives to wings.
 
To the bookmaker god
 
With your ticket and stub you make a book
of my heart. When my hand reads the ridges
 
on the pacer’s spine, the bindings whisper in tongues.
The roan of my favourite season whickers like a fold
 
in a leaf. With the rustle of silk, the winter sun
will canter the aisles, burnish the wood.
 
Later, after the spring carnival, I’ll re-shelve
the rhetoric of love, write for nothing else.
 
I’ll check the Dewey for harness and bit, catalogue
turf with green, and find your Cup in the stacks.


Anne Elvey

Anne Elvey is author of Kin (Five Islands, 2014) and three poetry chapbooks. She is managing editor of Plumwood Mountain: An Australian Journal of Ecopoetry and Ecopoetics and holds honorary appointments at Monash University and University of Divinity, Melbourne. She lives in Seaford, Victoria. http://anneelvey.wordpress.com

Image via Shutterstock.

Topic tags: Anne Elvey, poetry, modern Australian poetry, urban

 

 

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Existing comments

I write this reply to your poem,Anne on another Mute Morning. The thought of camellias , wattle birds and the ocean a wash of blue and grey were a call to prayer. Not to mention also reflections about power , longing , memory and departed loved ones. In beautiful words is surely the voice of God. . Praise and thanks.
Celia | 02 September 2014


Beautiful poem in memory of Carol. May she rest in peace. Missing her and her wisdom.
Debbie Clarke | 02 September 2014


Thank you for your warm response to Mute Morning, Celia. Debbie, I am so glad you liked the poem. Carol is surely much missed.
Anne | 02 September 2014


As a Seaford possum you drew me down to the shore Anne......and I thank you for your beautiful and wistful words..
Philip Thomas | 03 September 2014


Reading your gentle reflective words has left me calm and contemplative, Anne. Thank you.
Anne | 03 September 2014


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