Poem of the Week - David Malouf reads 'Visitation on Myrtle Street'

Friday, 15 April 2016 09:50 Australian Book Review
Published in Poem of the Week

In this episode of 'Poem of the Week' ABR Laureate David Malouf reads 'Visitation on Myrtle Street' which will appear in ABR's States of Poetry - NSW anthology.  ABR Editor, Peter Rose, introduces David who then reads and discusses his poem.


 


 

Visitation on Myrtle Street

I was woken at some hour
of darkness before dawn by a scent so heavy
on my senses, on the room, that I was convinced

a burglar had broken in
and was loitering
upstairs or in the hallway, or having caught

my step on the stairs above him was lying low
in the laundry, or sitting
upright and unbreathing

in one of the Windsor chairs, unaware it was
his scent that betrayed him.
I checked the door to the balcony, then the door

to the street with its double lock. In the dark front room I checked
the sofa. Stretched full length
on its French blue he'd be hard

to detect. No one was there
but the scent was overpowering. 'What kind
of scent?', K would enquire

at breakfast. 'Was it
musk? Was it pine?' 'No, something sweeter – why
do you ask? Something sharper, maybe cheaper.'

'Because that would tell us,' he told me
seriously, 'what kind
of angel you were visited by.' 'Here?'

I protest. 'In Myrtle Street?' 'Why
not?' I took it in. Sometimes I wake to the smell of coffee
being brewed downstairs. It wakes me. Why not

the smell of an intruder?
When I woke again the scent had faded. What
had not was the change I felt

on my skin, on my nerves.
Later I worked for an hour or two
at my desk, struggling with angels

of another sort, who leave
no trace I would call a scent. Of musk or sweat,
or pine. Only pen-strokes on a page

they have changed with their lingering, when they deign
to linger. Or a dazzling
blankness when they do not.

 

David Malouf

Published in Poem of the Week

Leave a comment

Please note that all comments must be approved by ABR and comply with our Terms & Conditions.

NB: If you are an ABR Online subscriber or contributor, you will need to login to ABR Online in order to post a comment. If you have forgotten your login details, or if you receive an error message when trying to submit your comment, please email your comment (and the name of the article to which it relates) to comments@australianbookreview.com.au. We will review your comment and, subject to approval, we will post it under your name.