The mortal utterance


Listening at night
The noise of the rain is all around the house, as if
a Bruegel, with its rounded villagers' bawdy business
and children's games, is being staged on the verandah.
In the daytime the cockies toss acorns from the oak
that stands over the bedroom. The tree drops them now
itself and the rain, finished some ten minutes ago,
falls from the leaves in syncopated time. The wood
creaks, as if the walls and the limbs concur that they
are out in the antipodes with their rolling hoops, walking
on stilts, the possums striking the piñata with their tails
and throwing the quince about the garden, like walnuts
or spinning tops. In this raucous abundance, the dark,
not the peasant tones of Bruegel, holds me with two souls,
the comfort of the covers; the shady occupation of the oak.

The little matter of light
Photons catch a rim as if cloud were solid,
an icon of atmosphere the sun trims with gold
leaf. They are not champagne in the mouth.
They are oysters working grit into seeds
to glisten on the tongue. They linger on a road
where taillights stream, are the after-image
of a flash the eye with its gloved hand catches.
They are words the night is memorising like the face
of a beloved. They mean distance, mean a past
seen in the present. They uncurl in grey folds,
pulse lemon when the world dips with
anticipation, that matter might make love.

The mortal utterance
after Isaiah
It is a coal
picked from the fire
at the altar of mercy.
A gust billows —
smoke fills
the tent pitched
for a god. One red
note pulses
where the cherub
blows. A seraph's
breath blisters
the lips. The tongue,
gingerly at first,
feels for the burn.
What a tender
rasp. Magnified,
the anemone cluster
moist as a grammar
that might repair
a world, might
in saliva steep
the possible thing —
language beyond
utility. The phrase
(the seraph stumbles)
brands the open
mouth. Here
is the wound's answer.

Anne ElveyAnne Elvey is author of three chapbooks, the most recent being Bent Toward the Thing (2012). She is managing editor of Plumwood Mountain: An Australian Journal of Ecopoetry and Ecopoetics and holds honorary appointments at Monash University and MCD University of Divinity.

Topic tags: Anne Elvey, Ecopoetry, Ecopoetics



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Existing comments

Now that is one hell of a poet! Beats the daylights out of a lot of the pretence that passes for poetry these days.
john frawley | 03 September 2013

Wonderful poems, Anne. Thank you so much!
Jean Sietzema-Dickson | 04 September 2013

Thanks Jean. Glad you liked the poems, John.
Anne Elvey | 06 September 2013

Thanks Anne for the depth and breadth of your words. Inspiring to read and a pleasant pause in the election week! Annette Field
Annette Field | 06 September 2013


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