Type
Poetry
Category
Poetry

Tempest prognosticator

The storm glass agrees
it has been a winter of oddities—
big soft flakes at the surface,
a tangle of collapsing fractals below.

      Three Melbourne women in their eighties
      have been discovered dead
      in unheated rooms,
      one in an original origami
      of insulating newspaper,
      the others in overcoats, in their beds.

A dozen leeches occupying
Merryweather’s glass chambers
sense the next Channel tempest
and undulate for the exit.
Their action triggers the hammer
that strikes a small bell.

      In record Paris heat, bottled Perrier
      is distributed to the homeless
      and Brevet exams are postponed.
      Concerns are held for the phoneless
      and for those who have not phoned.

The storm glass is a curio, a simple crystal garden.
The leech tubes lie empty in the Whitby town museum.
But within any margin of error
and as far as we can tell—
the more times any bell is struck
the nearer we inch to hell.

 

 

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Penelope Layland is a Canberra poet. Her most recent book, Things I’ve thought to tell you since I saw you last, was short-listed for the Kenneth Slessor Prize in the 2019 NSW Premier’s Literary Awards.

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