'Grade', a new poem by Peter Rose

Late afternoon. Another forty degree day.
Sick of ecological talk I decide to meet it,
take my book into the park,
not sure how far I’ll go with Against Nature.
Rare grass crackles beneath my feet.
This is not turf but a shell oval,
yet die-hards play in their filthy whites.
Only clouds billow, lyric.
Dog after dog sniffs my rug,
preferring the plastic hats ringing the oval –
odoriferous boundary. Impatient
with Huysmans I sit gathering
impressions like someone weaving
a garment that will never cloak.
Despite the heat, the cricketers play on.
This is the kind of bowling my brother
would have dismissed as ‘poop’.
Ball after ball is clubbed to the boundary
by the principal red cap. I think of someone
carved in marble, adamant – Moses, Ahab.
Week after week he humiliates
the brotherhood of salesmen.
One of his sixes clears my rug,
sends up a cloud of dust,
as if drought too will applaud.
Someone must be keeping score
but there is no board, no crowd,
only a few girlfriends, smoking, bored,
and the captain’s century,
when it inevitably comes, is like
a minor miracle among the poplars,
the aching poplars soon to be removed.
The red cap, having none of this applause,
smites the next ball into an oak.
Nearby at fine leg, so close we almost speak,
the sole handsome blue cap –
nimble, no stomach, but a woeful catch –
slaps his thigh inspirationally,
twitching for a bowl but never called.
Futilely he exhorts his mates, the last fanatic.
Urging them on, his martial cries
bounce off the apartment blocks
that ring the oval, cool, shining, indifferent.




Published in February 2012, no. 338
Peter Rose

Peter Rose

Peter Rose is the Editor and CEO of Australian Book Review. His books include a family memoir, Rose Boys (2001), which won the National Biography Award in 2003. He has published two novels and six poetry collections, most recently The Subject of Feeling (UWA Publishing, 2015).

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