Some wandered in deserts; I strayed
Among Antarctic beeches and Bunya pine,
Silver ferns and blood red soil, where I made
Kingdoms and mountains from my trampoline.
Some languished at sea; I saw an ocean
Outside my window when the Easter rains
Flooded the side path, and gazed at the scene
In raptured delight. I frittered hours
On the back garden wall; others wailed.
My haven-home moved with me; others lost
Home with house and place. Love never failed
My nomad days; yet love carries a cost.
It demands I reach out as I am held,
And make new home where the world has repelled.
Did you know that Melbourne has a Brooklyn?
Mostly factories, but behind the freeway
Nestled amidst houses there’s a church, in
Low-ecclesiastic cream brick. Today
On my way to work I saw it, vacant
Being Wednesday. But on Sunday there’s family.
And I smelt the Spotswood Vegemite plant
With its playful chimneys; a child might be
Filled with yeasty dreams to live there, growing
Up on that street where happiness ferments.
My first home was a tambourine, singing
Its jingling sounds in south Queensland silence.
So I’ll write here for these other unknown homes,
For everywhere that’s never had a poem.
It snowed the week I was born; my brother
and sister, fresh from Sydney, harvested
July joy with tingling fingers, gathered
what they could in eager clumps and pressed it
like ice cream into a punnet, to freeze
and store for future days. Being born late
I missed the fun, but days of ten degrees
trained me for cold; I could never equate
the Queensland warmth when we moved up north with
home, or the way things should be. The first sigh
of frozen breath, I puffed my Arctic wish,
ignoring trees that caught me in my lie.
Home is what our aspirations miss,
where daydreams stop and cognisance is bliss.
Jeffrey Smart painted this dying day:
burnt orange in floating smokestack steam,
needle-lights stretching in fluorescent dream,
the sojourn of light sinking in silent sway.
Daytime paints its canopy away
and minutes pass in inches as we glean
each moment, weigh each instant gram by gram.
Apologies buy flowers; much to say,
yet time is rare. I wish that now could be
a canvas on a wall that we could share.
I cross the bridge; I mount the street of bells.
Ascend, descend; the sound within us swells,
and expectation greets the seated air.
No movement; move. I gather you to me.
Delays are bad today; nothing moves.
Contained at interchange, a stencil house smiles, as though
to make this place feel more like home.
Small comfort: we go nowhere fast.
The morning yawns through Western traffic haze; the day’s
light’s too bright. We squint in glare.
Lane changes ache; all is standstill
until a way can open up, within this artery of roads.
No wilderness; the way prepared
congeals, and so we wait
with hearts tuned out (the voice won’t shout
that says, Prepare the way.)