Vancouver to Sydney, Monday 8 May 2012
Dawn breaks for three hours straight along the wing
Of a 747, six thousand miles behind me, two thousand
Miles to go, Pentecost Island like a small light off the tip
Of the port wing.
While I lay across three seats impersonating
Sleep, a whole day disappeared; it happens all the time. The sea
Is blue and legioned and steep with days, and it’s fifteen hours
Across. The Pacific is an isobaric book of tides beneath
Me that has swallowed up where I’ve been.
But as long as my watch
Tells me the time I left behind, I’m still halfway there: midday
Tuesday in Vancouver; five a.m. Wednesday in Sydney; no time
At all where I am, thirty-six thousand feet above Noumea.
You step into an airport near midnight and mountains fall
Away. Everywhere you’ve been, shut like a child’s pop-up
Book, till the next time someone picks it up.
Your old life
Ahead of you yet, waking without you; you’re a thicket
Of afterthought, swimming home in high cloud.
Is a fable, too, from this height, and you hang stateless, Aeneas
On a string that no one holds. You’re rowing home high in a medium
As mythic and elegant as Virgilian hexameter.
Is like remembering the future, and you’re hungry to make it
New this time, truer than how it’s ever run before.
But everything of course—once one lands—
Will be much the way it was.
You’re a ghost walking out of rehab, stepping back
Into a body you cloaked while your inner life wandered
The peneplain; you’re putting on old clothes now
At thirty thousand feet and trying to stand up in them again.
Dawn’s still breaking hours later, when time starts to remember
Itself. History resumes, the sea resolves to come to an end; you tighten
Your belt and feel the plane relent.
Home is an island
Below you now, clouds bivouacked along its eastern shore; home
Is a theatre of war in its own aftermath, and an army of other ghosts
Is massed there, waiting for the right wind
to carry them way back out beyond their depth.
- 99: BROWNFACESUBMIT NOW with W S Dunn 98: SINGAPORECOMING SOON with A Pang and J Ip 97: PROPAGANDACOMING SOON with M Breeze and S Groth 96: NO THEME IXwith M Gill and J Thayil 95: EARTHwith M Takolander 94: BAYTwith Z Hashem Beck 93: PEACHwith L Van, G Mouratidis, L Toong 92: NO THEME VIIIwith C Gaskin 91: MONSTERwith N Curnow 90: AFRO AUSTRALIANwith S Umar 89: DOMESTICwith N Harkin 88: TRANSQUEERwith S Barnes and Q Eades 87: DIFFICULTwith O Schwartz & H Isemonger 86: NO THEME VIIwith L Gorton 85: PHILIPPINESwith Mookie L and S Lua 84: SUBURBIAwith L Brown and N O'Reilly 83: MATHEMATICSwith F Hile 82: LANDwith J Stuart and J Gibian 81: NEW CARIBBEANwith V Lucien 80: NO THEME VIwith J Beveridge 57.1: EKPHRASTICwith C Atherton and P Hetherington 57: CONFESSIONwith K Glastonbury 56: EXPLODE with D Disney 55.1: DALIT / INDIGENOUSwith M Chakraborty and K MacCarter 55: FUTURE MACHINES with Bella Li 54: NO THEME V with F Wright and O Sakr 53.0: THE END with P Brown 52.0: TOIL with C Jenkins 51.1: UMAMI with L Davies and Lifted Brow 51.0: TRANSTASMAN with B Cassidy 50.0: NO THEME IV with J Tranter 49.1: A BRITISH / IRISH with M Hall and S Seita 49.0: OBSOLETE with T Ryan 48.1: CANADA with K MacCarter and S Rhodes 48.0: CONSTRAINT with C Wakeling 47.0: COLLABORATION with L Armand and H Lambert 46.1: MELBOURNE with M Farrell 46.0: NO THEME III with F Plunkett 45.0: SILENCE with J Owen 44.0: GONDWANALAND with D Motion 43.1: PUMPKIN with K MacCarter 43.0: MASQUE with A Vickery 42.0: NO THEME II with G Ryan 41.1: RATBAGGERY with D Hose 41.0: TRANSPACIFIC with J Rowe and M Nardone 40.1: INDONESIA with K MacCarter 40.0: INTERLOCUTOR with L Hart 39.1: GIBBERBIRD with S Gory 39.0: JACKPOT! with S Wagan Watson 38.0: SYDNEY with A Lorange 37.1: NEBRASKA with S Whalen 37.0: NO THEME! with A Wearne 36.0: ELECTRONICA with J Jones