New Poetry by Linda Adair

4

THE TOPOGRAPHY OF US

 

Driving west through the plains 

childhood reawakened thoughts

leap between stones crouched

like islands of papier mache

against the torrent of memory

 

I’d watch the sky to see the moon rise

run away without moving a muscle

know too soon so much of adult ways

innocent icons furled inside

a gram of sentiment like a riddle that

takes the words out of a mute mouth

 

this tarmac becomes a meditation

Let’s stay. No? just calling in on my way home

to the mountains black-green and hunched

wood fire smoke thick in autumn evening

sadness quickens in the quiet cold as I recall

what I lost – paper bags full to bursting

with tales of treasure – a world

of magic such simple charms

as love, plastic swans and sepia photos

 

I am the lucky girl who survived.

Adored by you who’d waited so long

for me – too strong to worry about and

too happy to worry – until a cloud

of mourning settled at the grand old age of reason

when you dear storyteller fell silent

leaving me to seek stories on my own

 

such things happen

when you’re the eldest child

in a family of last-borns.

 

 

 

BETWEEN THE MORPHINED SILENCES

 

He offers them buried snippets of the past

fleshing out the 2-dimensional figure of

the 1960’s-dad who’d worked 6-days-a-week;

until one day, he’d simply walked out

into what he’d hoped would be his life.

 

Sans road trips or new projects to distract

he drops his guard to give a final gift

tells them secrets that change their view of the world

and themselves, and then, the old joker returns

at odds in the calm despair of palliative care.

 

Impatient as ever, this worker-warrior refuses

to live out his time staring out a window

on the leafy North Shore, morphined

and placid in a cot-like hospice bed

and summons his old mate, rage,

at being caught by Death at 56.

 

One day, obsidian eyes burning, he draws

the resident oncologist to his hunched form

momentarily he straightens

lights a cigarette, draws back, exhales then cauterises

the tube delivering the placating fluid into his veins;

with this act, he consciously breaks free

into what he hopes will be his death.

 

 

 

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