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