October shadows grow long on Glenroyd Street.
I haven’t slept, and the house at Hill View
looks along its nose. I, far below,
know I won’t climb this hill —
even with eyes burnt insomniac black —
I know you’re near.
The day seems hot when wedged
in this Helmut Lang, a gift from a friend
it no longer fits. Only I know its age,
its lining shot: acetate frayed at the vent,
and you could say the same of me,
once I tell you the night was taken with turning.
The white pot with silver trim —
technically too tall for tea —
nevertheless lemongrass scents the room.
I look at my cup
as I say that someone in Sydney had said
that he thought that I loved you;
that I was inclined to agree.
You stare at the grain in my table,
explain how long you’ve felt the same.
We stay where we are: you seated,
me next to your feet.
We leave the tea unfinished.
We stand, my night’s rest and balance
wrecked on the reef of the message you sent
last night; mind picked by clownfish.
We stand because you have to go
home to your boy, your friend from Melbourne.
You stand so close that perhaps it’s your breath,
or maybe the sense that my chest
can no longer contain me;
but look where I will, I will never recover
the button that breaks from my front.
This old jacket, its lining in tatters,
will never close again.
Chris Arnold (Western Australia)
This poem is an excerpt from a longer work, ‘The Process of Knowing’.