By ION CORCOS.
A Way to Dismantle
RAIN drift, blackbird on a fence, the catastrophe
of ambivalence; I turn a chair to the glass door,
watch the sky darken, an elegy to snuffed candles
and all that has been. A way to dismantle,
to burrow for solace like a badger; what is lost
are pathways, the longing to take them again.
Tulip petals fall. The weather is not miserable,
and I laugh, shallow, so as not to get your grunt.
What is sorrowful is the chance you did not take,
to say different, to unwhittle before I leave.
Reading a Book on Propaganda
I am in bed, reading a book on Hitler’s propaganda.
The wooden ledges of the hotel opposite
don’t have any snow on them. Our sheets are fresh.
In the corner of this room: a folded clothes rack,
an ironing board we will not use, a wardrobe.
We do not bring outdoor shoes into our apartment.
I see a white wagtail on a red roof,
a sparrow on a cypress, water drip out of a pipe.
You hang stockings on a chair
in front of the heater, point out the paintings of an eagle
and a bear on our walls.
I have only seen a red fox here, shy, at dusk.
It is the same everywhere: this is what you need to see,
what you need to listen to, to taste.
The apartment is tidy, a furniture showroom.
I put the book on my bedside table.
I recall the signs on the supermarket doors,
all the shops that are shut for good, the empty spaces.
The broken glass in an alleyway.
A stream flowing over smooth stones.
AND this is the catastrophe: reading the transcripts of the Nuremberg trials, a queue to see the last elephant in captivity. I wait. A skyscraper falls. White clover. A human ear on a rat. Long grass. A magpie and a box of matches. An accident. Sirens. Empty supermarket shelves. I talk to nobody. Paradise is an inch of sun in June. A grain of salt on chocolate. The ruins of a castle: moss, stone, unearthed bones. Moors: deforested hills. The curve of a knife: to cut, to stab. After, to display on a wall, throw into a lake, place in a cutlery drawer.
The Evening is No Longer Ours
AFTER the snow, in the long thaw,
a white bell flower stirs. Inside, in its veins,
the fracture of soil, the slow incursion
of unobtrusive rhizomes. The precipice:
sparrows in brambles, great tits tweeting recklessly,
a smokestack, ambulance sirens,
the sky still in fog. A block of flats.
The unique begins at the fall of a stone,
in a garden full of birds, in an unruly kitchen,
until, sewn into the seam of a shadow,
a dress code, a renovation.
The evening is no longer ours;
only in the offloading, in unlonging,
like the marsh frog, unobtrusive,
on the edge of a rock.
After the Myth Has Fallen Apart
OLD stone bridge, a dead tree on Dinham Weir,
grey rain; on the winding lane, a cemetery,
a sign to be aware of hedgehogs. The wind and crook of neck,
you don’t talk to me anymore. Empty milk bottles,
a latch on a fence, white wooden window frames.
It is easy to make someone extraordinary – a gardener,
tarot card reader, bird watcher. A cyclist, a lover of 19th century French art,
a collector of porcelain ducks. Only after the myth has fallen apart,
and all the panaceas have you bankrupt,
a loss of spirit, a drawer of pills, moving pictures.
At the cemetery, a man who fell asleep at forty-five;
no art can bring him back – old papers, biographies,
a portrait in warm weather. To forgive the ordinary:
a duck on the River Teme, an unfaltering hawk.
If you are gone, and I have sent a letter,
you are gone. The shovel still stands in the yard,
and a robin returns to pick at the feeder. In the front drive,
the remains of a fledgling, tail of a mouse.
ION CORCOS was born in Sydney, Australia in 1969. He has been published in Cordite, Meanjin, Wild Court, The Sunlight Press, and other journals. He is a nature lover, a supporter of animal rights and the author of A Spoon of Honey (Flutter Press, 2018).