In this episode of Australian Book Review's States of Poetry podcast, Paul Hetherington reads 'Gap' and 'River' which feature in the 2016 ACT anthology.
A gap opened every evening
emitting a panting – as soft as darkness,
or stray dog at exhaustion's end.
Unsettling, like a straggly bird,
it dropped dark feathers
of prickling desire into the room.
It knew the edges of solitude
like the blue glacier's encrusted ice,
and morphed into a clouded mirror
on which each searching glance stuck fast.
There was never an explanation
as to why he walked into the river,
took hold of a log
and floated away.
They found letters
but the love he expressed
in sometimes obsessive detail
was no explanation –
except, the coroner declared
that perhaps it indicated
'a lack of a grasp', etc.
Someone who saw him pass by
said that he was waterlogged;
another said he sat upright,
as if triumphant, and was singing;
a third (unreliable) party
stated that he rolled and turned
and was having trouble breathing.
The coroner said that 'unless a body', etc.
And, certainly there was a report
that he had, after all, survived;
had walked out of the water
near a remote village.
'It sounds implausible', the witness said,
who was rather bedraggled himself
with downcast eye,
'but he seemed to be smiling,
if shaking a little –
and appeared to be looking at something
not so far in the distance.
You know, like a thought
can sometimes hold a man.'
Read Paul Hetherington's biography in 'States of Poetry - ACT'