Words, voice: Josephine Scicluna
Music: ‘Motion’ Daniel Dewar
Engineered: Nao Anzai
I’m high on the cliff path above Coogee
my bare feet tender on shallow waves of rock
like ossified sea/ behind the real sea
it seethes/ into icing surf and swirls
the rocky outcrop of Wedding Cake Island.
There’s a white wooden rail
and nothing else to stop me.
Maroubra is way behind me/ a memory
of my nine year old boy at the Mahon sea pool
And his dare-me to swim in July.
He hung back shivering as I shallow-dived
into the shock of blue-green water.
I’ll always remember him:
cut out against the sky and Hawkesbury sandstone
His cold feet gripping 300 million years to Antarctica.
I’m trying to reach you in a dream
refracted by birds and children
and I have 9 minutes left
to set down your nursery logic.
And I don’t know what your ears can take
the reverb rise inside your drums
your heart race before relief/ of time’s leap
and digital scratches sound out our flaws.
There’s no glory in literary mirrors
They just compress our slow and real disasters
from the Kimberley to Siberia
the Red Knot birds /a 10,000 K surge
drop for rest in their double mirror
of smog-dead skies and God-created earth for industry.
In the Yellow Sea where concrete feeds
the intertidal mudflats.
Watch our children crawl from the sea
Out of the mud in the swamp
they open fish eyes
and lift their faces to the mist
of Macadamia nut spray wafting in from paddocks
It seeps through their skin/settles softly into their genes.
I’m scared of our children
and here they come:
they take up all the doorway sun
and I cannot see where their eyes are.
I recall your eyes/ dark acres of sea
beside the Westgate
where green lights – red lights flash on the shoal
and you played Sakamoto
and held me tight/ through the night
Visions of myself falling again and again
into tanks of blue–green algae.
I saw your ambien music in triangles and squares
and sheets of steel eat grand pianos.
I thought I’d got synaesthesia/ now I wonder …
In this millennium it’s not strange
to stalk the vestiges of behaviour:
the morning unknot and evening unknotting
Of your crumpled white curtains
Above the barber shop/ shut windows/ and graffiti.
Or the twitter in the twilight
a thousand lorikeets in a tree
They do not settle for bed, but territory.
I’m trying to reach you in dream
and each night I appear
in repetitions and variations of your apartment
and it takes everything to speak
to get from this bed into your room
and rise up from your couch.
As time leaps over metal
My body takes shape
the way planets take shape
from spinning dust in the solar nebula.
Rapid time smooths me
into the roundness of your visible eye
at sheer distance
I coalesce inside your lounge room
in the shape of a monster
in Adrienne Rich’s dream
of Caroline Herschel.
I have surging narrative parts.
But when I arrive, the scene is always benign:
you’re watching TV with your kids
or eating Vietnamese vermicelli
with chopped/ spring/ rolls
and I can’t finish my sentence.
I wake in the morning heart racing – it’s okay – it’s to be expected
it’s just your body engine warming
to lift you out of near-dead sleep
and language parts dispersing
into the dying of /real/ life.
You once said
place existed before space and time,
it’s dead obvious.
But you resisted becoming a country,
and history would not close on your body.
so I had to shift time
in whole segments of place.
I saw time in front of me
in the solid confrontation of walls
and it was bright /in the light/ of the Mediterranean
lower Coralline, Globigerina,
thin Blue Clay and Upper Corallia.
I pushed it
all the way back through the dust motes spinning
into summer, a backyard couch
And reading Bakhtin /before I met you.
I trapped you.
In one hazy, yellow glance.
You are a stone and I am a stone
Only a dream could marry us and
Sydney and Melbourne are insoluble:
the surf crash into sea baths
and houses crammed along cliffs
up, up one bay/ and down into the next
against a Gotham city rising
out of a bay cast in methane so flat
and hot air balloons rise into the palest of blue skies.
Prepare for migration.
Come down from the cliff /leave your white wooden rail
and sink into a bath,
not a sea one but a real one,
and unfold on the algorithms/ of this suburb
where low planes drone and
the waves of traffic up Coogee Bay Road
sound like waves also.
A noisy miner chirrs, the clock ticks
and a red candle flickers on the basin.
Drop below the surface
where a huge heart beats – is it yours ?
or the pulse of the whole building?
And sometimes you can’t tell
between music and the drip of water
Prepare for migration.
Like the shorebird shed/ your grey-white feathers
and ruffle up /in bronze /for breeding.
Ditch your mind in the Dionysian hum
of the stage ground.
Gorge yourself stupid
on blind-picked invertebrates from the mud,
then explode into the sky,
you are perfect in one eye, catching
magnetic lines and celestial signs
to guide your flight.