Windows is shutting down
and grammar are on its last leg
—Clive James

Yesterday. The weather forecast.
A low-pressure system
is trigger widespread showers.

O my English language! You are losing your
inflections. Your peaks and passes, your fells
and dales, your long suffixed and prefixed
conjugations, your ings and ations—
these are my native land,
my forest, its sighing trees,
my home valley, its musical birds,
my village—and you

are being changed. Your strata fracked,
the tops of your ancient hills knocked off
by the careless blades, the need for speed,
of unredacted profit-crazed globalisation—
your streams choked with the turgid sludge
of marketing shite and business jargon …

Okay, my nose wears glasses now,
and I walk the streets with care,
aware of my feet and the endless weight
of the chafing chains of metaphor—
but I never thought that I would ever be
an old woman keening for loss of country.
Yet here I am,

trying to sing in tune
while tune remains,
trying to speak in time

First published in Creatrix 55, December 2021


Train station
Twelve minutes to wait
Five dollars
Plastic wrap
White factory bread
Stiff tomato
Square of solidified cheesepaste

Perforated steel bench
I sat
Unknown language
Stuck-out chubby legs
Small shoes

I turned toward him

He looked into my eyes for half a second
without speaking or moving his face.
His pupils and irises were deep and black.


That was it! I thought. What I’ve been looking for.
In the open dark field of the child’s clean eyes,
the What and Not I saw
was That. And him and all his kind the cells of it.

From A coat of ashes

The Millennium Simulation

Stills from one of the Millennium Simulation videos from the Max Planck Institute for Astrophysics

For those who are afraid, this
is what we are.

Made of spots and threads of light,
it looks like a giant brain, tissue
microscoped. Each neuron, gathered
axons, spot of light, plays
a cluster
of galaxies. Each drift
of connective tissue, teased-out wisp
of dandelion clock, mimes a trace
of dark matter. The scale indicator
reads one
gigaparsec: two billion light-years.
No commentary, no soundtrack.
The great column
of colonies of shining globules and filaments
turns in majestic silence.

For those who are afraid,

The view zooms in: the ship flies closer.
Among the lights, black gaps appear,
spread, become caves
of space, of holding

apart. Gravity
and Light. Play it
again. Listen. Is that
a sussuration? Whispers, waves, pings
along the filaments? What is it?

For those who are afraid.

From A coat of ashes

Watch the videos and read about the Millennium Simulation Project at the Max Planck Institute for Astrophysics.

The italicised phrase in stanza 4 is from the poem “From The Testament of Tourmaline” by Randolph Stow, in The Land’s Meaning, Fremantle Press 2012, p. 147.

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