Writers Festival Pastoral

By | 28 November 2006

The room hovers with translucent light
reflected from the ferries' harbour. Seats float,
awash with the voices of well-known, but not
major, Canadian poets. Stubby tops of pylons
plug the water, a template of equidistant spacing,
like a competent set of poems. The captioneer
of animal photographs laughs nervously, not quite
getting the attractive Russian political scientist's
joke. At the fringes, people wait for friends, or the next
session: swaying trees at a hillside property's boundary.
People queuing late for the talk by the telegenic
philosopher become salt-crusted statuary. A promotional
bookmark scrapes the ground in the early winter wind.
On the surface of Walsh Bay, a drowned seabird
is a waterlogged Festival program, a sheen of light
playing over it. In the silence between two speakers,
beneath the PA's ambient hum, there's the dish and swell
of the harbour, the thin platform built over it,
this novelists' casino, seemingly afloat, where the café
bears a small sign stating that they do not give out change.

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