Through the window a Eucharist of moon

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Debt
for Fr Brian Gore

 

The fabric of rain

beats a drum over us

the Orchard Road plaza has changed

& we haven't & smoke outside the rails

 

A bar girl dances against the night's

ballet of downpour

cigarettes at the boundary of good taste

we wait & are surprised

when we shouldn't be

 

O grand familiar clouds

that almost cover us

we retreat to the rooms of ourselves

 

Day break tropic light

a washed out sky air con rumble

storm sky against concrete

far too many television channels to watch

 

On the flight out of Manila

clouds sculpt prancing herds

& then the long drive south

to a home as we know it

back to a sound of almost rain

 

The evening's gecko chatter

along the wall

the dawn is still

here the tax idles in the rising light

 

They must pay back the debt

 

The years have done him well

the body politic

as we open more beer

& strike a match against the future

 

We arrive at school

our stomachs rattle

always snacking five times a day

 

Over the estuary we pull apart crabs

cold beer dreaming we sip water

hand catch milk fish through slats of bamboo

 

We plant mangrove seedlings

& stake then to a future

flat tidal lands stretch to the ocean

fish & prawn traps a skyline of commerce

 

On the walk back to school

one of the students introduces me to her mother

as we pass her headstone in the cemetery

& I am tearful when we reach the gate

 

Later in the rebuilt Su-ay market Rose sells me beer & rhum

& I am home in the giggling night

 

What food do I look like?

I tell the student, delicious

& make to bite his arm

 

At the elementary school it's a bagful of games

in the early chill of the morning

 

Saint Theresa's Feast Day & an offertory of candles

I save one for an absent student & order some flowers

 

A drop kick away from the hurley burley

of the school yard playing field

a funeral of a young man takes place

we gather in our silences

look up towards the sky

retrieve the ball from over the boundary

 

I stake a claim to the scrape of the coconut broom

& the geckos dash upwards

 

At the dam we become fish

& later feast on rambutan & lychee

so many we can keep our feet on the ground

 

We bring home what we don't eat

prepare a supper of leftovers

rhum & memory a heartbeat of age

 

Bush coffee & at Batang Beach we leave our weapons at the gate

& another feast for Saint Theresa

 

We air the rooms where we have slept

dust off our imaginations

in the afternoon it rains as the students

rush through malls searching for gifts

on tricycles we create waves to the shoulder

of the highways deep enough to swim through

 

We sign to each other a kind of grace

& slap each other for attention when lunch is served

 

In the shade of a mango tree

I watch ball games untranslated

there is just enough chicken & rice to go around

 

& the morning rattle cock crow dog bark

a rumble of trikes with the air con on low

 

The students play the altar servers

in a riot of basketball

& lose badly

later they twist & turn through

old school Filipino games

before the cleansing ritual of kamayan

we stand & eat one handed

over banana leaf layered with lunch around the table

 

After mass the fiesta is all family

food, beer & speeches

through the window a Eucharist of moon

 

 

xxxxxRory Harris's most recent collection is Beach. He is currently on long service leave for a year after many years in the classroom.

Topic tags: poetry, Rory Harris

 

 

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Existing comments

"Milton, thou shouldst be living at this hour/ .... Thou hadst a voice whose sound was like the sea / Pure as the naked heavens, majestic, free."
Frank | 20 February 2019


Fine evidence that Rory Harris is one of the three best Oz poets extant together with Geoff Page and Mike Ladd. We need them and all others.
Peter Goers | 20 February 2019


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