Eastern Seaboard, October 1

Stephen Oliver

Dusk, everyone and everything back to its
corner—a little Greek girl next door bounces a hug-sized
plastic ball on a terra cotta patio, coughs,
but a child’s cough sounds happily insincere and safe.
A Myna bird guns it past the guttering into an
emerging pocket of shadowy tree.
Car boots close. Doors open. Car doors close, conclusively.
A uniform spill of thin dark washes out the sky,
a salute to the lights crackling across far suburbs. Sounds Isolate.
Wind rattles in an old palm tree outside the converted
boarding house—multi-layered plane roar,
descending, the sound tired, and suddenly rush-focused.
A train line busies and curves between stations—
invisible, comforting; “freight train, freight train, goin’ so fast,”
not here though—this is not plains-country
just an ancient river basin with a city circuit and tentacles
of inner-harbour richly blue-grey,
fringed with swimming pools, bright as optics.

The new leafed camphor laurel, the hissing it makes as
night air stirs. Deep purple slate roofs part seen through branches.
Sydney awaits the solidungular pounding of summer heat
when it becomes an oven box (thickly humid),
though not as bad as Brisbane, frontier town to the tropics,
“beautiful one day, frivolous the next.”
A stillness everywhere. Intermittent scent of rain like the smell
off a lost paddock. A vertical uplifting of sky
and a darkening, an immediate future of thunder;
boulders rolled off a cliff top into the deep passes of the city.
Small moments of peace harboured between
indecision and the world’s latest installment of brinkmanship.
The Articles of Noise programmed to their targets along the
curve where discoveries once set sail.
A currawong the last inhabitant to leave the sky. Dark closes.

Lycanthropic cloud prowl, shaggy throated,
rummage amidst flight paths over the city, light smear,
and roar of metal overhead heading toward
Kingsford and Botany bay. “They get so close you can read
Dunlop on the tyres,”
said an acquaintance from
an earlier era, his voice itself one rigorous growl through
air-waves when punk made the ghetto-sound hip,
and Thatcher was a back room stooge made good, iron maiden,
a ball busting, union-breaking bitch. Brief London days,
when I found myself one night in an abandoned
squat, fucking a spiked-haired slag who squawked, “try him,
he’s pretty good,”
to her “timid as” girlfriend in
the wolverine flicker of street light. Like a lost B-grade flick,
the storm carries its rumour beyond regret,
nothing more than an untidiness of air, a contortion as in
a dream sizzling through this flash, angry hour.

Harrington Street, Enmore, Sydney, 2003

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