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Poem: Prologue

Books & Poetry

Australian balladeer Henry Lawson wrote about the classic Australian east coast southerly busters. In this week’s Poet’s Corner, Robert Martland sets the opening reflections of his work-in-progress memoir against one.

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Caroline Bay, Central Coast, New South Wales

There was a stillness in the air, a quiet respite
ahead of the brisk forthcoming southerly buster
a time for memories
and thoughts of loss perhaps; or just
|the stillness between breaths.
The sky holds its secrets dark when the moon is hiding
and the stars are drowned by clouds,
when possums munch on quartered apples and cicadas make
their slow journey to height and fast-fast journey to love.

A memory hovers on the edge of thought, too fragile to grasp,
so tenuous it slowly rises without form, coming
with a feeling and the softest touch of an emotion
long since forgotten but never betrayed.

Across the bay eucalypts bend to a breeze not yet felt,
and as the wind progresses north the water begins
its churlish welcome; spattering with gargled vowels
the displeasure of having its mirror face disturbed,
in such a disrespectful and violent fashion.
A parade of wavelets driven by the wind, moves north
roiling with quiet derision, casting scorn ever forward
as corrugated they bank against each other
and ride towards the nearing shore.

There are waves that crash on rocks and dispel as flotsam,
their being lost in spray and violent concussion;
but others roll into each other, the memories overlapping,
drowning, mixed and muddled, lost in the million
grains of sand on the tidal reach or sucked soullessly
into glutinous mud to be consumed
by crabs and other creatures of the liquid land.

It is a beached memory that is sought, lying amidst the countless
sand grains, jumbled and mixed somewhere in the multitude,
whispering quietly for attention; begging to be found
as a tune remembered, the melody haunting
as it slides away the years from then to now
but vague and in its sepia silhouette.

In this place at this time it is an old man’s memory, a piece
of long-forgotten past bringing with it the strength of youth
and the blind belief in a never-ageing eternity
that can still stir the blood. Yes this old man’s
half-glimpsed memory is as ageless as the stars
(though even they are being nibbled away by time)
ignorant of the years and the tears
that are always between the then and the now.

Robert Martland is a financial analyst and auditor who has worked in both the corporate and public sectors in Adelaide, Sydney, Singapore and the New South Wales Central Coast. He is about to retire to Mt Gambier. Over the years, he has also had a dedication to both golf and poetry, the latter which he has seen published in Australia, the US and UK.

Readers’ original and unpublished poems of up to 40 lines can be emailed, with postal address, to Submissions should be in the body of the email, not as attachments. A poetry book will be awarded to each accepted contributor.

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