I saw you today,
as I drove home alone.
You were standing beside the road,
waiting to cross.
You wore your crimson vest,
the one I’ve long coveted,
and your grey hair was cut short.
It suited you.
But before I could wave hello
I remembered that it was not you,
could never be you,
and that your crimson vest is now mine.
It was not the sun’s warm invitation
nor the baby-blanket blue sky
that drew me out of the house on that early autumn day
but the chore of pegging up washing,
or heaping dry clothes in the basket,
I do not recall which.
Nor do I recall why I paused
and glanced up.
Did I hear the wings flapping?
Or feel the movement of the displaced air?
Surely not. The bird, while hovering directly above,
was at too great a height, that of the canopy
of a hundred-year gum.
But I remember the piano-key wings
of the common garden magpie
moving furiously against the immense blue backdrop
while all else stilled and was forgotten.
And I have promised myself that I will always remember
how at that moment I felt
Kristin Martin lives in Adelaide with her family, where she spends much of her time “admiring the clouds”. Her poems have been published in anthologies and magazines, on websites and in art exhibitions around Australia. Today’s poem comes from her first book collection “Paint the Sky”, details and reviews of which can be found here.