It seems only yesterday a disorienting sense
of unease, and the shrinking autumn sun,
and the scattering leaves of the plane
trees all told me it was time
to escape these iron-born, sky-wrapping clouds,
and drive, or fly, or take a (now impossible) train
journey to you. For years I’d needed to train
myself to deal with the singularity of your absence,
with the state of living under different clouds,
in a different city to you, my old, only son
– with having to face these longitudes and time
zone discrepancies – and not just jump on a plane,
and land on your doorstep. The dry, boundless plain
that stretches between us, spanned only by dead train
lines and gouged-out roads and sheep, stretches Time
somehow, beyond borders or meridians, or a sense
of reality, and is measured in megalitres of sun,
wingbeats of crows, claps of thunder, and clouds
– a barrier as tangible and solid as brick. It clouds
our thinking, this quantity of distance that only a plane
can take on (devouring the miles while it races the sun).
Walking’s too slow (Life’s too short) and you hit rain
squalls and rockfalls in four-wheel-drives. In a sense,
they’re partners in crime: fat Distance and hungry Time.
But everything had changed this time.
My room was a prison I couldn’t leave. Clouds
of memories cast shadows of doubt and my sense
of gravity failed me. My eyes lied. A passing plane
flew tail-first across the sky. A passing train
of thought reified, opalescent in the west-rising sun.
And now nothing remains, including you, my son,
or not for me. I’ve crossed a line in Time
that no-one recrosses. The curtains of distant rain
always stay away, and their dark, mothering clouds
forever float far beyond my windowpane, in plain
sight but unknowable in this, my eternal loss of essence.
I have a sense of it now: the relativity of Time
clouds the amplitudes of Distance on our brief train
journey across the endless plain and on, into the sun.
- 96: NO THEME IXSUBMIT NOW with M Gill and J Thayil 95: EARTHCOMING SOON with M Takolaner 94: BAYTCOMING SOON with 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