And like a scene in which the primitive
Enters the house and hardly comprehends
The way the masters live,
So do the first two days of ours unfold.
We look around wide-eyed,
Housesitting an apartment for some friends
In all its electronically applied
And hard-wired luxury, iPad-controlled.
A touch screen will indulge our every need,
Or idle wish—the merest thought of it
And we are remedied.
The lighting, air-conditioning, TV,
Blinds, awnings, radio,
Hi-fi: on/off, up/down, loud/soft—commit
A finger to the screen and it is so,
Our functions disembodied, virtually.
And then, outside those glass and (strange to tell)
Hand-operated heavy sliding doors
We strenuously propel
Apart to make a wall of vacant space,
The city is displayed
In panorama which our gaze explores
With an extravagance that’s half-afraid
We’ll blink and find it gone without a trace:
The glassy skyline among which St Mary’s
Presents a stone entreaty for the past;
There, skewering midair is
The tower of Centrepoint, positioned where
It claims the centre lies;
Pan right, the bridge and, not to be outclassed,
The Opera House, that permanent surprise;
The green approach to Mrs Macquarie’s Chair;
Closer, here are the docks of Woolloomooloo,
And, right below our eyes, the naval base,
At which the QM2
Appears one morning, and is gone the next,
As though it had not been,
Like something one might conjure and replace
With just a finger’s touch upon the screen—
A trick to leave us neophytes perplexed.
The light performs its spectral repertoire
From dawn all day to evening. In between
And cut-out towers, insertions of midheaven
Will sometimes put on view
A slowly moving plane, which seems to mean
To glide by, not behind them, but clean through,
A floating revenant of Nine Eleven.
The harbour shifts its dazzle to and fro.
At night the Opera House appears to shine
With sunlight’s afterglow.
This hand I raise and stretch, is that to scroll
The image, or adjust
The settings to accord with our design?
Content as novices, we watch and trust
In what’s unfolding there beyond control.
- 109: NO THEME 12with C Maling & N Rhook 108: DEDICATIONwith L Patterson & L Garcia-Dolnik 107: LIMINALwith B Li 106: OPENwith C Lowe & J Langdon 105: NO THEME 11with E Grills & E Stewart 104: KINwith E Shiosaki 103: AMBLEwith 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