Not since I was four or five at most
and in the first of many striped tee-shirts
have I been this close to the flavour of safety.
I’m walking into town again, the child of hills.
You bought me fish and chips for lunch, my own
adult portion because I asked for it, in Evans’s
tiled restaurant, the Alhambra of takeaways.
Waiting on a reeking strange
railway station –
then the dead-quiet but crowded
Rain bubble-wrapping the windows. Rain
falling as though someone ran a blade down the spines
of fish setting those tiny backbones free. Rain
with its squinting glance, rain
The staff and board of Australian Book Review extend their thanks to healthcare workers around the world. We all know what risks confront doctors, nurses, aides, orderlies, and administrative staff in our hospitals and medical clinics, especially here in Victoria. Countless healthcare workers have been infected with Covid-19, and many have died. We’re immensely grateful to the sector for its commitment and self-sacrifice.... (read more)
The ritual begins by filling a plastic basin with warm water. It is carried from the bathroom to the bedroom. It is placed firstly on a stool, then on to the floor. Soap and a flannel cloud the water. My hands bathe the woman who has removed her nightie. She sits with a sense of calm and pained skin’s need for pleasure. It is like bathing a tired child. I lift her arms, we speak quietly of shared things. This true intimacy is purifying. We have forgotten the things that have strained and estranged us. These mornings our bond is primitive. These days are bordered by routine. I am preparing her for death. I am pleasing her prickling skin. I dry her. I treat her skin with lotions and oils. Liver cancer has swollen her body into a state of pregnancy, distension, emaciation ...... (read more)
As when the governess
Clutched to her bosom the damp head of Miles,
Who squirmed, unseeing, frantic for a hint,
Not able yet to guess
What she appeared to see in the haunted pane
Besides the backlit sky: the shape of Quint
Trying to find his way past her denial’s
Hard stare, not quite in vain.
Everything happens fast and then goes –
the new movie you were waiting for
that you’ve suddenly just seen, the tunnel
under the harbour that seemed to take forever
now built and grooved by a million trips.
In winter fruit trees bud, shops
are full of summer clothes; only this
mind is slow, still stalling on the same
questions, never getting it, left behind
by life as by some wild-eyed nag
storming down the street, her hoofprints
pasted in the grass.
Welcome to the feast, piccolo pasero,
A feast that never ends, of loyalty and treachery.
Two are sold for a farthing, little sparrow