The message reads dry bones

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Drought

Somewhere in the southern universe
rain has disappeared.
Even the palest flowers have flown.
This river can't move through the bright fields,
can't dampen a platypus's young.
Boughs have fallen in, along with currawongs.
And the message reads dry bones of a dung-heap.
You hear the river cry in the darkness.
It takes a breath over trickling stones,
over endless white cracks, where even the lilies
are ornaments in mud.
Insects work in the darkness,
so the owl is not alone.
Every year, now ten, the geese return
to the dung-heap,
to the bog's soft heart,
to the cold stones
that run forever.

Two Versions of Rain

i.
Rain taps a tin-roof telegram of young hopes.
You slumber deep when it rains.
A kind of music surrounds, opens the sky
to let you soak in its rhythms.
You remember lying awake at night,
listening to a yard of leaves, summer baking
gutters on the roof, creature noises;
frogs in locomotion percussing you to sleep.
In autumn, windows opened to sliced sheets
of rain, trains tooting down the drainpipe track,
an invisible meander ready to take off, or the quiet
drip, drip, drip, of a quarter-turned faucet.
The night sprouted temple songs, Christmas beetles
ticking inventory, cicadas rustling up a prayer,
crickets never subtle, never whispering,
hiding in the roof like contraband.
Rain. Rain on the roof, shouting libretto
or teasing out a silence of its own.

ii.
You‘re curiously wide awake when it rains,
in a trance of language, a verbal art.
The sky rumbles overhead, unleashes its mission
to swallow veranda, porch and fernery whole.
You grope in the dark for the alphabetic order
of bed-lamp, door latch, raincoat, umbrella;
yellow cord to unravel canvas awnings.
You're more versatile than an insomniac.
Feeling lucid, you're looking for that allusive word
— imagination!
Awake and soaked in night's vision,
gumboots squeak on concrete path;
a lexicon louder than the illuminated sky.
You go through all the motions, conscious
that the family are bodies under thick sheets.
The rain is heavier than the weight on your eyelids.
You've reached that point when you hallucinate,
bed covers strangling neck, legs and feet.
The situation can be decoded in one, rapid eye
movement, in one disappearing act through drains,
that final trickle to a sizzled morning heat,
and last turn of the author’s tap.


Helen HagemannHelen Hagemann lives in Perth. Her poetry has appeared in major literary journals across Australia. She has two chapbooks, and her most recent collection, Country Girl, is nearing completion.

 

 

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To the Editors of Eureka Street (and the authors), thanks for the frequent poetic expression
Francis Brown | 06 May 2008


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