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The ambiguity of touch

  • 04 April 2011

Cinema Como

Instead of glistening lake,    there are midnight mirrors to swim through.

Instead of open sky,fifteen satin suns are shaped into Louis XV armchairs.Heavy curtains gather like storm cloud.

Instead of mountain,a carpet of flowers bloom,and that soft glow of lamp is tree.

My imagination begins to flicker,goes wandering inside borrowed dream.I try on new clothes

to walk a lonely highway with my protagonist.I'm seeking that fine line of horizonjust as much as he.

It could end badly,but for now it's about faith.Revelation sits in Row D.

The darkened cinema soon works me loose.I become a cosmos of storiesand slip through fingers

to fall into the scuttle of light —    pure radiance that builds suspense.

–Libby Hart


At airports, your handsprint the double glass windowsas if you are da Vinci.

I smile into Styrofoam-cupped coffee& turn the pages of a Francoise Sagan novelas planes glimmer & land outside.

Twelve months later, I wake you in my sleep& demand to know about A380s & 747s; thosemystic metal machines whose physics elude me.

As a child, planes in the sky filled mewith inexplicable terror, but onlyif there was no one to tell.

Earthbound by the swing set, steel wingsbreaking sky 30,000 feet or so above my headwere equated with German Shepherds;

letters lost in the mail; being lockedin shopping centre toilets; & Godknowing my atheism.

At 23 planes become what I fear againwhen mapping our way from Bratislavawe're hit by lightning & emergency-land.

The white flash is somehow metallic& my mouth fills with a tastethat recalls losing a tooth.

Our first night in Austria & youdelight my three year old Au Pair charge,teasing that she has yogurt on her nose.

I watch her fall for you, giggling intothe cup of her fingers, her affectionun-cautious.

Dialling plus-six-one home I wonderwhat the skies hold for her, as she namesfour of her dolls in your honour.

–Jo Langdon


When is touchinvasion of privacyquick patimpulse of compassionlight or lingering caress

To touch another is to sendsome intimationsubliminal blatantcasual or deeply meant

At a tram stop onceI tapped the shoulderof a woman slightly knownIn her swift turning and her startled eyesfear asked Whose touch?

When is restraint the protocoland whenis reaching outthe act most right

Contained by skin and nerve and separateness we touch or don't

–Lerys Byrnes

Libby Hart's latest collection of poetry, This Floating World, will be published this month by Five Islands Press. Libby was the café poet for the Palace Cinema Como in South Yarra, Melbourne, from March–September 2010.

Jo Langdon is a literary studies PhD candidate at Deakin University,