Brief squalls of blue, spliced between persistent rain.

Scene 4: a pair of black swans drift towards sunset,
slow tilt at a finite problem – soft-lighting perhaps?
But the rugby fan behind me unwraps a hotdog, wrapper
branded Hans Small Goods, & the Waikato Chiefs score again.

Near Bulli Pass, an isolated stag hoofs it
across the freeway’s shock of headlights, edging
away from Venison Weekend at the Austrian Club.
Each of us holds this sensation of acceleration,
approaching the drawn-out smudge which may yet be
mountain range blurred against a graphite sky.

Even in rewind, you look older in the makeup mirror
in your hip pocket, kept for such doleful occasions.
With a flick of the wrist, you interlock its circles like a lens
though a quick survey of the foreground brings the distance,
like a taciturn stranger, too close for comfort. Ambling along
this alpine lake’s gravelly shores, petrified wood crumbles
at a touch, each piece strewn into place before the crowd
snaps the reverie with a gasp.

The train is a cue; we shuffle into platform gaps,
fingering this thought or that, licking our lips in anticipation.
If there is room here – enough for everyone – invite
the rugby fans, our collected friends, even the swans,
who barely register our shapes from so high above, as we move
into & out of focus, signposting this explicable mist.

James Stuart

James Stuart’s most recent projects include Conversions, an exhibition of poetry in translation (Chengdu, Suzhou and Beijing). He was a 2008 Asialink Literature Resident in Chengdu, China, supported by the Australia Council and Arts NSW.

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