Local anti-hero

Local Anti-hero

He meditates in saffron alone in
a yurt. Writing music and busking now,
abstinence and rice have rendered him thin.
He cakes a mudpack to his sunburnt brow,
fashions bangles from gumnuts. Bass Strait heaves

as he strides with Walkman, staff, and backpack
beneath Mount Killiecrankie's peak. He grieves
for damage done, sees beyond the sea wrack,
flouts convention, looking like a Hindu 
— see his headdress bob above the breakers —
from the cray fishermen's curt point of view.
The film industry's movers and shakers
must seem a long way behind now, his days
of editing, a retrospective haze.

Small Mercies

There is some warmth from the fire still.
In its last, burnished light I think about
a couple who lived a life together
of quiet goodness offset by yearning.
They argued, laughed, interrupted with shouts.

The idea of women's freedom was touted
and then practised — in a way, but their
life was also subjected to age-old tension.
He was sometimes sick with a bitter fervour
she believed was her cross to bear.

Hurt, he resisted her circumspection.
After dark, in bed, they turned to stone
instead of to each other's injured heart.
The house quietened around them.
Cold stars glimmered in space, each alone.

They had enough money, energy
to do their work, enough to seem
modest models of success but she
could not grow wings, could not fly
to the coast of his separate dreams.

They learned by heart not to envy,
to accept with grace daily routine,
to listen for their deaths in the distance
and know this as their salvation,
take from their days what they could glean.


When she returned after twenty-five years
her family cancer travelling with her
like a suitcase filled with past mistakes
she was struck by how it tasted the same.

The sea still crashed over enduring rocks
fishing boats bobbed in the postcard harbour
gaunt fishermen, remembering a wild teenager
grinned, kissed her shyly in welcome.

The mountain, dark, as if already in mourning
love, the landmark rock, and clouds like shrouds
still loomed as she watched gulls squabbling
thinking what a soap opera her homecoming was.

She tried to greet her sisters' needs with grace
their anxious glances, their need to plug pauses
tried not to weep at her stepmother's kindness
the suffering in her old father's eyes.



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