I keep seeing things – glancing light on a window
and darkness, the kind you can look through and see
the cold sou’westerly fretting the leaves of the chestnut outside.
Just the night wind has me back at Torbay:
it gusts against the roof and sends me from my bed
to stand between the curtains and the cold glass, looking out.
It starts raining and I think of him navigating those night flights.
The little I know makes him a stranger and I can only
sense the years that vanished when he died.
The space at the table where his stooped head obscured the trees
outside is clear now, yet I see him sitting there unspeaking.
Silence is a kind of tyranny, his broken to pronounce:
life is the accumulation of scar tissue, it’s just pain.
Perhaps it was this that got him through
the time in his mind that dwelt between the rivers
Isar and Amper as Prisoner No. 146708
armed with silence and a small knife he fashioned for himself
to carve up bread so that he could draw straws with the others
for a crust, and know that what couldn’t curb
his hunger was at least scrupulously fair.
This was what he told us of as children, and that when he was shot
down he shouldn’t have hidden from the cold in a haystack.
The leaves on the chestnut were turning,
fallen husks mulching in the grass. It was Easter,
I think – I was small and he old, his head half-shorn.
When I asked he told me the wind blew his hair away
as he leaned from a window.
But what of time without a window or a way out –
opening into cold night and a track through the trees to the river?
Long after all that the chestnut stood bare
until no one could say which spring it didn’t green.
Then someone cut it down, stacked the wood
against the stump and left it.
- 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