Before the first call of the day
numbers grow bright,
illuminate globes tinkering in and out of darkness,
Christmas lights or an imperfect grin,
a momentary promise
amidst gold-rimmed plates of pikelets and Arnotts.
A blue rinse array of perms and cardigans,
punters fanned by dull slow rotors,
low and familiar murmurs of weather,
gardening, and Tony Barber.
Nell, my Nan, spreads her many cards –
she has all the mystery of a Tarot reader.
A circle of black and white beads at her neck.
Outside the wooden hall the greyhounds
are training, chasing a hare around the track.
Our tables span like ribs across the floor,
Nell reaches to straighten my cards.
‘Eyes down’ and a palpable hush falls –
a last teaspoon tinkle raises eyebrows.
Orderly rows of pens and daubers
rise and fall as number squares
are blotted like missing teeth,
both the fives, 55
me and you, that’s 2
it’s sweet 16 – key of the door
and stop work, 65
someone calls ‘Yes’ and it’s a line.
A cardiganned enforcer
gives the nod to the line caller,
and we forget to breathe –
the lights, the numbers,
my Nan’s lost to the strange incantation
two fat ladies
I’m watching the globes,
and finally it’s ‘Housie’.
- 96: NO THEME IXSUBMIT NOW with M Gill and J Thayil 95: EARTHCOMING SOON with M Takolaner 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