To the author of the marginalia in a poetry book
in the second-hand book exchange
Flicking through its pages, reading first lines
and stepping out the stanzas to see if my life would fit,
I found you’d been there before me, saw where the words
had lifted from the page and you’d stopped reading to sit
amid the spark and sough of recognition,
mark the spot with an excited Yes!
Wk5 Hwk scrawled above the poem on page 39 was
a momentary disappointment: could it be
you were a gangly high school student trading Week 5’s Homework
for something saucy – Lady Chatterley’s Lover perhaps?
Then I found my glasses and rising from the blur of Wk5 Hwk
like a church steeple from low-lying fog, were the words
My Heart. I could hear its steady beat, there in the shop
above Air Supply, all out of love, on the radio, hear
how it harboured years of lost opportunities,
hankered still after a wild awakening…
There’s a poet I like. His Collected – slim, green cover –
lives on a shelf a book or two from where I found you.
I thought I’d visit him again next week…
I’ll keep an eye out for you, shall I?
And if I get there before you, you’ll know me by my asterisk,
or by a system of ticks denoting tonal pleasure,
or even by evidence of the occasional long night
of passion – its eloquence of chocolate and poetry:
that brain buzz, that glottic slide, that slow melt.
Louise Nicholas was born in Port Lincoln, and currently lives in Adelaide. A former full-time teacher, she now teaches on a part-time and relief basis. Her poetry collection The Red Shoes appeared in the Friendly Street New Poets Series, Volume 3. She has also published four chapbooks, and in literary journals and anthologies, and is the co-author with Jude Aquilina of the collection WomanSpeak.
Nicholas co-edited, with Rob Walker, the Friendly Street Annual Anthology Volume 30, and has been a guest speaker and reader at festivals, conferences and community events. Today’s poem is from her new book The List of Last Remaining, from Five Islands Press, University of Melbourne and which can be found here.