Katherine Gallagher - 2
Zelda Fitzgerald Practising Ballet
Zelda dances, dances
weaves her implacable dream:
sometimes it drifts
but her eye snares it in,
the pattern that she counts on
to screen her other face -
harrying the night.
All that fever and sequins
discarded like an empty day,
past the fret of her marriage -
the book-heroine yoke.
Beside her old zany flights
she has sworn now to dance for real,
to make her own name. It is not too late.
Hours lag, skein the day -
she loops and dips, dizzy with steps:
there are no crowds lighting, wrapping her in
but with each wild leap, she parcels fury,
strains for a choreography
to reach her self.
Maldon, Old Mining Town
A breakdown at six a.m.
and no garage till seven; reminisce
pick at stillness, among the ranks
of bullock-drays and the old diggers
pegged to their shadows --
my great-grandfather who
just missed a mine here,
couldn't go deep enough
to crack the golden rib,
and the others like him
who started and stopped
in the overnight of a few years
until the reef went quiet.
Everything's stage-set for history
as the miners pass again
in the early morning chill,
spendthrift with ragged success
and celebrated: the town clinging to a oneness
that was theirs -- hood-nosed verandahs
over stone-slab footpaths
with relics of the Then
when six million stirred the Banks.
And you listen, touch their golden-
wheel: it spins in your dream as they
come driving up the street
from an age when they chipped the year
on everything - the '54 Bakery, Dabb's Store,
the Hospital and a line of churches. . .
Then their voices trail off -
gone like the gold they chased.
And you wait, hold your breath. . .
Carry their clip-clops
Our child lost in Kew Gardens -
acres, acres and us peeling back
desperate for another chance. . .
Tourists passed smiling - blossoms, trees
blurred into policemen's radios,
children's cries cutting -
a three-year-old's blind signals.
He had gone, vanished
while we raced the afternoon's
frenetic maze, dread and nausea
jagging our ribs.
An hour's nightmares magnified -
waiting in one place as directed,
with reassurances gathering like balloons,
plummeting to a despair.
Suddenly my mother, stern heart
moored between separations, deaths
and years of loving, stood there
marking time, waiting too.
For Julien at Six Weeks
you have taken the world
by your fingertips
small hands closing on
grapes of air,
first fruits that you touch
and hold at arm's length
to choose and choose again.
Soon you will learn
how days are layered with secrets,
how the sun combs back
its fields of light,
how the wind unveils its colours.
You have all the time you want –
a careful mime
as old as the eye.
For years I dreamt you
my lost child, a face unpromised.
I gathered you in, gambling,
making maps over your head.
You were the beginning of a wish
and when I finally held you,
like some mother-cat I looked you over -
my dozy lone-traveller set down at last.
So much for maps,
I tried to etch you in, little stranger
wrapped like a Japanese doll.
You opened your fish-eyes and stared,
slowly your bunched fists
bracing on air.
we watched seasons
seep into our skins
saw the seasons fail
now we find ourselves
packing once more
choosing a direction
the sky weightless
before our eyes
the cart piled ready
we scratch final messages
wedge ourselves on board
elbows jarring our sides
suddenly the driver
jerking the reins in
as the load tilts
starts to break on itself
November, Bois de Vincennes
I listen to autumn’s
caught in any leaf
as trees gather colour
and leaves burn to their centres -
bonfires across the earth.
All summer has been winding down
to this: the blaze, a dance,
a requiem for the year's leaves;
a fire subsumed into stillness
guarding an inner music,
a flute-voice echoing
again and again towards newness -
spring's first twist of season,
its sheltering braids of green.