Window

At the window in my front room
I watched umbrellas go up the hill
struggling in furious autumn gale
most black, some red or comically transparent
pulled down upon a woman’s shoulders
to protect her new hairdo from the rain.

The Georgian bay window shielded me from rain.
I loved to be alone. That cold front room
with long net curtains wrapped around young shoulders
and the weather beating, shining or racing down the hill
was my castle; huge windows on a world transparent,
sheltered from the furious autumn gale.

Round I whirled, a leaf dancing in the gale,
moving faster and higher, inspired by the rain.
The net meant giant windows were transparent
only from the inside, so to a clunky sale room
gramophone weighted with pennies, I was me on that hill,
before the world could press upon my shoulders.

I smelled the musty net around my shoulders
and knew the world was old and furious, though its gale
and torrential outpouring never rested on our hill,
forming pools in parks where tourists pulled on rain-
coats and stirred coffee with plastic spoons, in a room
where an organ played and people’s smiles were transparent.

When my cousin came, we served homemade sweets on transparent
plates and put on a show. On young shoulders
responsibility for choreography and costume. Front room
filled with patient eyes, we would anxiously regale
our aunties, mums and Nanna with entertainment, rain
dancing in accord, outside, thunder clapping on the hill.

Of course, I grew up, and went out from the hill,
down into murky valleys, away from transparent
umbrellas, aunties and sticky sweets, out into rain
that seemed more inhospitable when it landed on shoulders
bent and bowed with the weight of life’s gale.
But part of me will always dance in that front room.

Meet me on the hill, put a scarf around my shoulders,
transparent rivulets in a furious autumn gale,
blessed by rain, with no umbrella, let us dance in my front room.

Sea Symphony

Toes, waist, chest, chin, then swallowed by the sea,
I’m a mermaid, brought up on ear popping sandstone rock,
sent to salsa through a musical element not our own,
where fish may do-si-do through lace of flimsy lungs.
Dive with me heartlong through musical wave ranges,
sparking the excitement of a gazillion castanets.

Let me tantalise you with Chalchiuhtlicue’s castanets,
while jealous Eurybia pirouettes by us in the sea.
Now we’ll reach below the surface for deeper ranges,
and I’ll show you how to roll the waves and rock
in ecstatic freedom, with fine, uninhibited lungs,
until you exclaim, and claim the water as your own.

Then you and I can find a soundscape of our own,
a balletic collaboration, moving beyond castanets,
to a place where dolphins commune and human lungs
split into feather gills, fleet and sexy for the sea;
where we will meet our thermal origins, ready to rock,
and pause to play great fossil pipes at unheard ranges.

When we have absorbed those harmonic underwater ranges,
and sea beard grows between teeth not quite our own;
when we have become our ancestors, and belong to the rock;
somewhere above us still will play those spangled castanets,
and as you lay yourself on my shelf beneath the sea,
so the dance of our bodies will return us up with new lungs.

First breath, as we surface, oxygen thrust into salty lungs;
First cry, as we emerge, sound splintering mountain ranges;
First swim, as we splash, amazed, to the music of the sea;
sent to salsa through an element not our own,
accompanied by the clap of Chalchiuhtlicue’s castanets,
we’ll reach a place where water drums roar on sandstone rock.

We’ll help each other up, upon the drums of sandstone rock,
and, beating chests, exalted in our triumph, fill our lungs
with air, sea below us clapping – a gazillion castanets,
we’ll sing of life and rock and roll and mountain ranges,
and know the music of the earth, which we can never own,
but that we clambered up to dance to, from the sea.

From our hold upon this rock, the clapping of castanets
and our own song, belted with the mighty power of human lungs,
rings out across mountain ranges, and to the bottom of the sea.

Ti amo

I’m so sorry I can’t be with you tonight
high in an Italian mountain wilderness
sipping red wine from glasses we found
in the dimly lit kitchen where we simmered
al dente spaghetti on a single electric ring
and licked the salt of olives from our hands.

Remember the first time? Holding hands
in the room where you are alone tonight;
warming our hands on the same electric ring
and listening to the sounds of the wilderness
as we enjoyed simple dishes, simmering
spaghetti, impatient and hungry for all we found?

I wonder, when you arrived, whether you found
the bed linen I washed with my hands
in the room next to the spaghetti simmering,
and made up the bed, comfortable for tonight,
safe from the strange mountain wilderness,
comforted by bolognese cooked on that single ring.

It might be some little while before you ring,
an hour’s difference disrupting rhythms, we found,
leaving us each dancing in our own wilderness,
unused to having so much space and time on our hands.
I wonder if you will want to talk much tonight?
after a day in the sun, bed made, spaghetti simmering.

Tomorrow, when you are properly settled, simmering
gently in the warmth of the medieval stones, ring
and we’ll swap stories; perhaps leave it tonight,
giving you time to reflect on whatever you have found,
gemstones and kernels to share, held in your hands
like a prayer in the Italian mountain wilderness.

By now you will be sleeping, unfamiliar wilderness
of Italian dream-scapes shifting and simmering,
heat taking leave of mountain stones, dear hands
perhaps reaching for mine, wanting to be held, ring
me in the morning, and tell me what you found,
but know in your heart, I am with you tonight.

Two dear hands in the wilderness
where tonight dreams are simmering,
ring in the morning, to tell me what you found.