Last Days of the Blockbuster
The palette of Degas,
an abstract before its time.
The clouds, the snows,
Pissarro’s green dreaming
These are the last days
of the blockbuster.
‘You can’t see it
until you stand back’
says my old mother,
leaning on my arm.
Monet’s same church
in fifteen different lights.
We don’t exit
through the gift shop:
‘I’ve got more postcards than I could ever use’
she says, ‘even a calendar is risky.’
If this was a film
Bach unaccompanied cello
would start playing
over the credits.
We go back
against the flow,
‘It wasn’t much up close
but now I see the reflections.
The sky in the water.
The last bit of light.
That’s not the Shinkansen coming in
or a rock concert crescendo—
that’s the whole tarred-over earth
having a little shimmy.
The bass note
goes right through your spine.
Don’t rattle those dishes at me:
I know I haven’t done them yet.
The map gets crinkled
by deeper routes.
In the after-silence one word echoes:
Surface. Surface. Surface.
(Cleaning Up After a Storm)
All calm now as he sweeps the drive.
The garden radio (a beaten transistor)
plays Wild is the Wind by Nina Simone.
Tree bark, like torn sleeves,
discarded sashes from a race,
piles in front of his broom.
He finds a nest, like a nebula,
inside, the core felted to cup an egg.
Some small life began here before the storm.
Like a leaf clings to a tree, Oh my darling cling to me,
For we are creatures of the wind…
Nina’s voice, a deep, burnished moan.
Last night, he walked the streets
as the wires were clashing, branches snapping,
bins blown banging along the road,
returning in the small hours to this shocked house
from which she has,
Barbers’ chairs turn slowly in the current,
dummies in bridal white are baptised
in the brown, uncontrollable river.
Blindly the flood reads its way through the bookshop,
prizes opens cabinet drawers in Centrelink
and blurs the files.
In the Crystal Shop it muddies the facets,
adds shit notes to the essential oils.
The wood from the lumberyard heads downstream
the way it used to do in red cedar days.
Afterwards, lower stories vomit their insides out,
line the pavements with a white-goods spume.
Through the town there’s a line drawn
on windows and walls.
Friends help mop up. Some stay, some go.
Fans aerate the shells of shops.
A notice in the jeweller’s: After thirty years
I was beaten by a raindrop. All commissions
will be honoured. It may take time.
I have your names but some are now illegible.
Please call this number…
The swamp oaks make ambiguous sighs
drawing in the water left rippling at their feet.