Welcome to Eureka Street

back to site

The angel's telling smile

Necropolis 1917

They came from the centre surrendering to heroism
We retrieving their light when they no longer can
Remember a time before innocence dreamt itself

Dust on his dungarees mending a rabbit fence
With sun-kissed stains on his leathered complexion
The tableland sits down to a long afternoon's lunch

Spinifex settling into the loam above a dingo's bones
Besides the slit-throat reeds retiring into their bushland brine
Ghost rhizomes slowly probing vegetable memories where

Scones and tea form an endless procession of domestic suns
An inch-worm prophecy settling down to the bottom of
A young private's name prefigured in a foreign constellation

Where the whistle sounds that magnesium bright moment
Gun-shy generals, gazing up at the grid locked skies
Write his death warrant to be replayed at the band rotunda

Reminding us Saturday is for cricket and Sunday is for God
Tongue-tied it's enough to just listen to that music
Though we can't surrender in dance let the band play on

–Michael Healey

The Cathedral at Reims

In the front of the great assertion that is Reims,
one Angel smiles.
He is Gabriel, delicately boned, familiar,
he has turned towards the Virgin
who stands in her long solemnity,
amongst the sober prophets,
and the proper saints.

His is a telling smile,
one that might not easily be disregarded;
one small, infecting verb of grace
to animate the prophets, kings and holy folk
to truly rise
in this celestial curvature of stone
that human hands
have only just begun.


There is a frailty along the valley of the Marne,
as if the voices of the Angelus
were deafened by the wind;
as if the stealth of the invader
still ghosts the greening valley
as quiet as a panther's loathing.
But, by the craft of those ancient,
marvelling hands,
the long patience of the Cathedral stands,
with its tall neighbour belfries,
the Good Samaritan
and the wounded man,
and the pealing of its bronze, heraldic bells. 

Grant Fraser

Michael HealeyMichael Healey is Melbourne based poet, student of theology at the United Faculty of Theology and has a background in philosophy and law.


Grant FraserGrant Fraser is a lawyer, poet and filmmaker. His collection of poetry Some Conclusion in the Heart was published by Black Willow Press.  

Topic tags: new australian poems, Necropolis 1917, The Cathedral at Reims, Michael Healey, Grant Fraser, war



submit a comment

Similar Articles

Not just war as teens fight back

  • Tim Kroenert
  • 09 September 2010

The characters voice implicit moral concerns about the right to kill in self-defense, and rationalise why it might be right to take up arms against the invaders. When Ellie is confronted by a mural depicting an encounterbetween Captain Cook and a group of Aboriginal Australians, she ismomentarily arrested.


Political farce aboard the Starship Ostracise

  • Brian Matthews
  • 08 September 2010

Lieutenant Yoo Hoo Hoo leans forward to read the tape: 'Gillard offers Katter trip to Russian Space Station'. Our voices are drowned out by a persistent beeping sound. The specially engineered Windsor-Oakeshott Thrusters have split and the Ostracise is going into reverse.