States of Poetry 2016 ACT Podcast | 'Charlotte's Grace' and 'Spring Fall' by Adrian Caesar

Wednesday, 18 May 2016 10:53

In this episode of Australian Book Review's States of Poetry podcast, Adrian Caesar reads two poems, 'Charlotte's Grace' and 'Spring Fall' which both feature in the 2016 ACT anthology.

 

Charlotte's Grace

(For my grand-daughter)

Coming in with stones from the garden
your first impulse is to make them shine.
Washing rocks, you call it, and give them
full treatment, soap and flannel and rinse,
your three year old hands and eyes intent,
absorbed, and this not a one-off game;
it becomes a favourite as if
to establish your own ritual
you show the specimen to me gleaming
in your eyes and palm the offer of a gift;
I finger the treasure smooth and damp
and see how even grey can offer a gloss
on elemental wonder and variety;
though it dries back, the sheen gone,
stone and water and gift abide
suggesting through silent invention
sermon and parable: child's play.

Adrian Caesar

 Spring Fall

I see you stand with your back to me
at the French window as you did last March
looking at early flowers
yellow and crimson, pansy and primrose
peeping from their crust of snow and
above them the steel-sculpted angel
rearing from a wooden plinth: guardian
of the courtyard. In those bleak days I knew
you were reading the cemetery metaphor
of your blighted time; your death-sentence
delivered too early before you'd finished
flourishing, much less gathered the fruits
of later life; the hope of a ripe fall.
I did not speak then, not knowing what to say
and keen to lend what strength I could to
elongate your stay. It's only now you've gone
these words insist, should I have spoken and
what said? The silence echoes in this
recurring scene of you turning to face
breakfast, the torture food had become,
and me, who could not stop the haunting
of that cold figure, the austere seraph
you'd bought, body and wings
three curved scimitars surmounted
by a featureless ball-bearing head,
apt messenger of death in spring;
an angel built to last: terrible, hard
and comfortless.

Adrian Caesar

 

'Charlotte's Grace' and 'Spring Fall' appear in 'States of Poetry - ACT'. You can learn more about States of Poetry and read the full anthologies here

Read Adrian Caesar's biography in 'States of Poetry - ACT'

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