He recalls freedom’s embrace by the canal
eking money out in an overseas squat.
They cooked on a portable camp stove,
jumpers inside tracksuit pants, breath foggy.
At night she lit candles. Hushed, in holy light
they listened to rats scuttling in the roof.
Every dawning sang with anticipation.
They mapped the city, rested on tombstones,
little fingers curled together, discussing life.
The multiple ways he avoided spending
combined the illegal with the morally dubious.
He picked the electricity meter’s lock,
began feeding it the same coins again.
Their assortment of part-time jobs was bizarre.
Now, as she assesses her chic wardrobe
before they drive to the island restaurant
he wonders if that building is still standing,
his palace of memory swarming with loss.
A sweet sadness steals over him, in thrall
to the enigma of those smoky days
like movie scenes drenched in joie de vivre.
Here, Where I Work
If you come down my river-bridged road
to spend some time talking with me
I shall lift open the scraping gate,
usher you past the old glory vine
I propped up with a pine pole,
take you inside to my dusty mementos,
offer coffee brewed in my two-cup pot.
I will show you my studio of books
set in my bird-bright garden.
In a drawer maps contain echoes
we would share of footloose days
when young hearts trusted the future.
Which of us will sigh, murmur
that all turned out for the best?
Before the light goes, silhouetting mountains,
the sound of the evening train faint,
the air redolent of eucalyptus,
I could guide you on a walk I love,
circular, naming my landmarks,
teddy bears’ picnic, dragon’s lair,
from a time when I took care of children.
After you have gone, after
I have put away my treasures, after
I have thought about you being here
and things said, and left unsaid,
I might write words and phrases,
cross them out in the ticking silence,
then write them down differently.