In a small town moment, I and a neighbour’s boy play rapture:
a cosy front yard, marbles clink the balmy air, a palace in the sun.
Mr Laidlaw, my soccer coach, barges our bliss. We don’t need
you damn Catholics. His purposeful stride is a departing
threat. Cath-o-lics. Words leave their mark, a hovering
menace, a triad of barbed letters. Yet in the
stunned air between us, our eyes catch a shift in the light.
Above us, the sky is now upturned. The skin of the dome
becomes a busy commotion, a mob yelling hate. This
word was a distant rumbling on life’s edges, now it
scuttles on the rocks below paradise. These letters
heat the air and rise to the centre of my life.
Now the path is a surface of sludge-deep holes. How
will my splintered selves dodge through the decades ahead?
You urged me onto the XPT, this
luminiscent tube that lasers the dark.
A friend drops me at Casino Station. I
wave farewell. Grass crunches under-foot
as I walk onto the platform. The engine’s
headlight splays the autumn air.
Now I sit in tons of steel transfixed by
the tracks ahead.
Grafton and Kempsey are two-light stations,
warm pockets in the overcoat of night.
One-light stations like Wauchope and Wingham
blur past at eighteen frames per second.
Maitland, Thornton, Beresfield and Tarro,
stations of the school cross, come and go like
childhood slides. The suburban sprawl is a
sentence that doesn’t want to stop.
Pauses at Hornsby and Strathfield punctuate it,
make it many.
Now at Platform 22, your sapphire eyes are cursives of light,
the entired station aglow.
The years with you were cycles of wax and wane: sometimes
we were a bright star in your gravity’s orbit; sometimes I was
With your sun falling behind a memory of lightness,
I rotated to a dead star.
Three years after the burnout, I picked a second-hand
novel from my bookshelves.
On re-reading it, I found the bookmark, your photograph
inside the back cover.
Your blue-orbed menace
still trembled my second skin.
One night two years later, I sat on the backsteps
& gazed at the galaxies.
a million light years deep, glittered
and the miraculous
wild and known only to itself,
4. I listened in its silence & looked at your photograph
I recollected our recent meeting at a dance party.
You said, I thought you might still be angry with me.
I said, Fifteen years is long enough to be angry with you.
Our past was a star: shining, distinct & had
moved to another part of the night sky.
my star revolves on its own
is a tendril.
It spirals from
to my tongue-tip.
is a fine red wine.
a wreck on the rocks.
wild, wild risk.