Two Poems by Geoff Page


concluding with two lines by Les Murray

I see now that I’ve used the word too loosely,

been prematurely nervous re

‘the heat death of the universe’ while still,

each lucid day and hour, surrounded by

the weathering of paint and timber, the sway

of ageing fences, the vanishing of friends

who live on in a street sign or

a run of unremembered numbers.

I contemplate a cabernet

brought up from a cellar and

adjusting to the room.

‘Entropy’ is not the word for when

the word itself turns absolute, its small

white light a revelation, the last thing on

our retina before the conflagration,

that box of dry, compliant ashes.

Why is it then I’m moved but not consoled

remembering Les Murray who believed

Houses pass into Paradise continually,

voices, loved fields, all wearing away into Heaven.


6:30 on these August mornings

we’ve only slowly come to see

a pair of tawny frogmouths who

have learned to imitate the tree

they’ve roosted on for generations

before we human beings arrived,

brandishing new names for them

according to our several tribes.

Have the tawnies huddled there

ever heard their name in Latin?

Podargus strigoides. Yes,

taxonomy inflicts its pattern.

They seem so paired and unassuming

dozing on their winter branch,

back from one long night of killing

frogs and slugs and mice and ants.

I’d rather hoped they’d glide like owls

romantic on the midnight air

but though I’m told their flying’s ‘weak’

there’s little that evades their stare.

Some mornings they do not appear.

Do they choose another tree?

Why is it when they’re not at home

we feel our own fragility?

September soon and they’ll be breeding,

taking turns to warm their nest.

Sweet progeny of predators,

we’re bred to do what we do best.