When she was eighty, we learned,
our Gran confronted a man
at her window at night.
He was from round the bend.
His house was down by the Banoon train,
the trellis out front displaying unnatural
ornaments: two mismatched picture shapes,
one, a hunter with a rifle, black
with white outlines in the style
of a practice target in profile.
The other was a huge, gaudy butterfly placed
as if the hunter were about to shoot it.
But about this night of confrontation—
years after, Gran confided to one of us, off-hand,
how she’d lain in her bed, and then
a shadow head had appeared
at the window
and she had spoken to the head in the darkness:
I know you’re there and I know who you are.
At this, the shadow head departed.
The man went on to kill
a man and
and bury their bodies on Mount Glorious.
With my head up this close to the mirror I think, God,
my nose is just like my grandmother’s, and I remember
a time I studied her—one morning in her hallway, in the light
from the guest room’s door—I looked at her head
and thought on, extrapolated from, the looks
of those from the north of England. But really I saw nothing.
I was just piecing, reaching. I was only about twelve.
Next to that flat figure with the gun
that winged thing looked exultant.
I always noticed it on the way
and knew it wasn’t right.
It wasn’t a joke, it was stating
a view of the world this weirdo thought
we’d better heed. That’s how I felt as a kid.
In the years since I learned
of this encounter at the window,
I’ve thought how she never told
this story into our record as I would,
as I do. This happened! Hell’s bells!
She let it out eventually but only that one time
and it was grown so much by then, that secret,
into a troll thing. Magic potato. Humous
jewel. We could use it now, I think she knew,
because its power was strong from her
conserving it so, without tending it.
Often I tell myself when worried,
Wait but do not consider.
This is how a secret grows underground.
In the otherworld, that huge butterfly
casts a shadow above our little craft.
When the thing moves on, so shall we.
The hunter was never aiming at the butterfly;
it had swooped in to shield a soul. The protector
force-fielding, halting time to provide an exit.
In that mirror that makes me into my ancestor, I question
whether I could dismiss the murderer from my window.
In the mirror my ancestor
scrutinizes me using my own eyes.
(Did you know this is why our ancestors
no longer need their own bodies?)
If the murderer comes to me,
I will sleep inside
while she looks out
my windows and replies.
- 104: KINwith E Shiosaki 103: AMBLECOMING SOON with E Gomez and S Gory 102: GAMEwith R Green and J Maxwell 101: NO THEME 10with J Kinsella and J Leanne 100: BROWNFACE with W S Dunn 99: SINGAPOREwith J Ip and A Pang 97 & 98: PROPAGANDAwith 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: AFRICAN DIASPORAwith 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