No place to talk about death


Late walk along Jerusalem Inlet

Rows of trees knee-deep in bracken
trunks green with soft moss
all dead or dying
a shovel shaped pit
the sound of water
some Mirkwood path
to a wide green place
where a house was
all ruined
broken rocks and bricks,
beside the broken oak tree,
a non-allegorical snake.

The Stations of the Stairs

Beneath the new stairs
that rise from the beach,
the shallow cries or calls of children
and the floating lovers,
the old remain blurred
and bowed, instantly acquiring
an archaeological air.

These constructions
rise in stages like Apollo
with platforms for viewing
or resting, the salt
prickling at your back
arriving at last at a higher
if less sanctified place.

Low tide, Norman Bay

This isn't a place to talk about death,
the tide falling, thin peaks
crumbling in a light onshore,
the light fading too,
though the waves in the corner
are still that aqua colour
that makes them look tropical,
the beach is as wide as ever
Skull Island holds the horizon.

The light is falling away with the tide
but the dark shapes are birds going somewhere
the bubbles in the sand
small breaths rising into the air

When we eat together

When we eat together
around this flat altar
we place the food
between us,
and before us.

Something stops
for a time
in this ritual
the purpose of which
to bring us
together again

Them as visitors

They move unsurely at first
through this redistribution of effects,
flop finally into the familiar family couch
re-cast here to appease us all.

And we cluster around the new table
as if the old wood, reshaped, shrunken, could recall other tableaus,
things we did together,
in the continuity of cutlery.

They eat quickly, then want to go,
'we're empty nesters' one says to the other
as we walk them to their cars
and watch them drive away.

And we walk back together in silence down the darkening driveway,
to this re-shaped shelter,
the dry husks of strange seeds
crackling under our feet.

Warrick WynneWarrick Wynne is a Melbourne poet and teacher who has been published widely in Australia. He has three published books of poetry, most recently 'The State of the Rivers and Streams'. 

Topic tags: new australian poems, Warrick Wynne, Jerusalem Inlet, Norman Bay



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Existing comments

Thank you. I liked the way the flat altar - and other images - could be church, parish - home -new home - unfamiliar church - or all of these.

Julia | 27 July 2011  

Just superb.

Les Wicks | 29 July 2011  

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