in the presence of a photo of
your mother, aged twenty three
her hands folded and covered in glitter
her hair long and black
A quiet night in the square,
taxis parked with their side-lights on
and engines cut, drivers
muttering under a fuzzy streetlamp.
The woman’s hands
are tied behind her back –
her hands are not allowed
to speak for her.
The interrogator lays his knife
Three bluetongues reside in our steep bush garden
of sandstone ledges and the stumps of fallen trees.
One is content to doze under a rock while around her
everyone chatters; one lost the pointy end of its tail
Her mother remembers how in the end
she died of third-degree burns from a kitchen fire,
and she can’t get over it, the cup of tea
her daughter made her every day
The springing point was where they took off from,
where the impost, set on good footings,
joined the arch and assured its leap and span
of water’s being there yet flowing on.
Nothing is whiter,
like clouds with the sun inside them.
Nothing is smoother,
like clouds and the moon beside them.
I was reading a poem in that upstairs sunlit room
when I looked up and thought I saw you, Harry,
standing beside the window across from the apartment
where laundry hung outside like a fireman’s ladder snaking
Take the Dasslers, for example: even with
a buggy and two horses they were walking –
leaving it all, turning their backs, quitting
What you say
could very well