By | 1 March 2017

With thanks to Heather Parnell, Pocket Remains.

Beyond the softnesses of squirrel, sable,
the more liquidly flickering kinds

of weasel, there is mouse-whisker,
down-feather of cloud-pheasant, newborn baby’s hair.

Don’t credit the word ‘air brush’. There is nothing
to be said with that in your calligraphy.

But look into the fire.

Pick one flame. Watch how it licks
itself, its frayed point, to the finest

definition. Try to read,
then to write, what is sketched by that tip.


In the lost script of the silent people,
thirty one characters seem to refer
to shades of being
absent – e.g.

‘the sense that someone has just left a room
where they were never present’ or
‘the state of having left what
is no longer there’.

There is a possibility
that you will understand them.
You have been warned.
Do you want to read on?


Among the rakings out of last night’s bonfire,
this: a flicker book of stills,

a busted flush of pages, each a brief exposure
of maybe an almost a face as it twisted away

but not before its glance burned in
as her or his face turned away might scorch the other

to the heart. Here’s a snap of the heart,

its heat print on the moment, here’s its ash-print
on the air. They’ll keep the albums, the two

matching albums of each other, see each other’s faces
riffled by in all the windows of a passing train.


As if the most mundane
and crumpled of us might reveal
in the body one day
what the mind hardly dared

suppose: spontaneous
combustion – every cell
resolving, in a kind of Rapture,
God’s equation, e = mc2


With a lighter-than-thinking brush-point,
a less-than-a-finger-tip’s flick, in an eye’s-blink,

a kiss to the page: a mark left without pigment
or ink – the almost weightless imprint

in the grass, the pad-scuff in sand
where life brushed past us, so close: signs

the old bush people knew. Ten thousand years

they shared the land with wildfire
in its season. Untended now, it stalks

the gardens of the suburbs, leaving crude
graffiti we can’t read beside our looted bins.


Where the angel of fire passed over
and did not stop
to knock:
a darkening …

Where it came low, slowed
and let its wingtip brush
between the streetlight and the blinds:
its shadow, with us …

Where it hesitated on the gable:
in the bricked-in chimney,
its grit on the page …

In the morning a scar, a charred
hole burned clean through
where it entered: as close
as we’ll come

to beholding the face,
to transcribing the one
and unsayable

The poems of ‘Pyroglyphs’ dance around Heather Parnell’s Pocket Remains, a series of images
literally inscribed by fire, which can be accessed here.

This entry was posted in 79: EKPHRASTIC and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

Related work:

Comments are closed.