poems

No ghosts

She used to play the piano in the lounge room

Until her hands hurt too much, and she could no longer move her fingers across the keys.

Then, she spent her time by the large bay windows, letting the breeze cool her of an evening. 

She only had a few months of that, then she died.

One morning I came to her room and knocked. 

She was dead in her bed. 

We buried her; I played some piano music from an expensive speaker.

What could I do with the piano?
There was nothing to do so I left it in the lounge room. 

I sat in front of the bay window and let the breeze drift across me.

The house is empty and silent without her

I imagine her ghost in the room

But what frightens me most of all

Is that there are no ghosts.

Kokoro

The piano teacher set out the rules of attraction

Mine were of trouble.

“Kokoro,” I called out.

The slim, attractive woman appeared. She was a child of God. That is what she called herself.

“Tell me of your dream,” I asked.

The cat’s cradle, she said, I dreamed it was under fire.

There was a death

Even while we followed the rules for life.

Resurrection.

At swim, all my friends felt pleasure and sorrow.

The correction, Charlie travels here today.

A war crime.

I held up my hand

“You watch too much of the news before bed,” I said.

Smiling, she patted at her dress and turned to leave.

“Stay,” I asked. “It is early. We can watch the sunrise from the balcony.”
The city was yellow with lights, the last of the night sat uneasily

With the sun on the horizon.  

aged

The steps to the house are loose

Broken

The door does not lock

The windows allow rain in

There is mold and the smell of rot.

The old man

Fleeing the old people’s home

Makes his way here and stumbles in the front door.

When he was a young man

The road here was manageable

Now it is clogged with cars

They are knocking his house down soon

But one more night in his own room

Before they find him in the morning.

Night air

I don’t know if I’ve got it in me tonight

The same streets and shops

The same faces

The sunny day, the rainy day

The health and sickness.

I stand by the supermarket and watch the rain fall off the roof and puddle in the car park

I wonder where to from here.

The night comes

The street lights

It’s still raining.

The saddest I’ve been is standing outside a mattress and bed shop

At 2 am

Looking at the beds on display.

A snapshot of Blenchow Bay

The stone house

Painted white inside

With white windows

Had five rooms

Two bedrooms, 

Dining room

Library 

Sitting room.

The kitchen and bathroom were separate rooms behind the house.

The front windows had a view over the bay.

The yard that stretched for twelve acres wide,

Ended in a path that cut down to the water and sandy beach. 

In that house, Ingrid had raised four children

Loved a husband and lost him

Seen her eighteen birthday

And now, on a rain-soaked, grey October day, saw her 80th.

She began the day at five, watching the rain drops run down her Smokey-glassed windows

Watching the fishing boats in the harbour

With their lights disappearing out of the bay.

She had already set the fire in the kitchen and in the sitting room

Now she had bread baking, clothes drying and the net that she was mending 

Set up across the timber grid. 

It was a cold, quiet day; the sound of the rain on the roof kept her company

She rubbed her hands together and felt how dry they were, like autumn leaves

She did not need to go into town today and looked forward to resting in the afternoon. 

Salamanca Bay

Eyeing the water

Sitting on timber boards

Drinking in the dark

We watched the boats in the bay

I wondered how the people get to the boats from the shore.

We sat there until late in the night

Moonlight played on the white boats

One name stood out, Penelope.

An old man sat on the bow

Scrubbing the side of the boat with a brush.

Later, I walked home beside the blue-white quay

And saw the little rowboats that must have been the answer.

I turned from the harbour and wandered up into the city

Passing the 19th-century sandstone buildings

The night was full of ghosts.

The night has a demon

A dark, dangerous spirit that travels at midnight.

2 and 3 am are the most dangerous times

When breathing is difficult and panic sets in

Eyes open, looking out windows at a city bathed in black

And yellow street lights.

The demon is there

Dragging its feet by your bedroom window

Possessing you with a madness to fly out of bed

To run out into the street

To clutch at your throat to get a breath

Silence, blindness, terror

 it is the night hour of death and lunacy

Of loneliness 

Of the fear of death

Waiting for morning

And the yellow-gold light

To chase the monster away.

Summer Swimming

We would go swimming on summer afternoons
We were so thin and fit
Walking on those baked sidewalks of cement and red dirt
We would cut through the city streets carrying our towels.

The Saturday afternoons were ours alone
We had a special key and could enter the closed pool
We would swim and watch the sunset
The magpies, at peace, in the huge trees by the fence.

She would swim and dive in the cool blue water
I would grunt and struggle to complete my twenty laps
We would walk home in the evening redness
She would sing softly a tune about summer

That one summer, I wanted it to last forever
The Weekend evenings
We would also, sometimes, go at five am on weekdays
The water unbelievably cold, and we unbelievably tired.

It ended. We parted
As Autumn came, I would go bike riding and running
She preferred the gym and yoga
The swimming was something we would do again, but alone.