I read between the lines of my heart While a red leaf floats like whisper upon my lap. And is there any more clarity than before? Only more conflict, more questions, more uncertainties. Nothing like the delicate truth of trees, through time. Dense, tedious heart, too many layers, too many possibilities. Tome of inanity, I turn back the cover and close you up. Leaf, teach me, teach me To change colour, then just fall.
At Alexandra Gardens the fog hangs like drapes from blushing trees. I walk into its folds. I breathe in a long time. It smells of stone, stillness, mystery. It draws deep into my belly, spreading the bones. Letting go, I hear them whisper: Who was that? in her luxurious dress of silk
Is a connection man-made, like a highway? Or is it preordained, like To whom we were born? Does it only run between us and Real objects or people? Things you can hear or see. I think about the grandfather I'd Never met whose spunkiness Courses through my veins. I think about the imaginary characters Of my creative fiction that Lie with me beneath a star-lit sky. In religion faith is built Upon the most profound bond ever. One question leads to another: Do we remember our former selves Before this time period, before Being in this body, on this journey, like a childhood memory, Like the tail-end of a fitful dream? Do we remember those we knew and loved In these early lives? Is there a spark of recognition when we see them today? Is there a carry-over of old ties, Like a relic, like an inheritance? Come to think of it, I must have been a forest-dweller Bound endlessly to trees, and their shining leaves To flowers Birds Ants Grass
The two-storey terrace houses Have been conjoined At their sides A long time now Their arched balconies Framing lit windows where Love mingles with disappointment, and Anguish dissolves into peace this Is Fitzroy, Victoria the last trams For the day Roll on here Past alleys of street art Across the pain of the bar's Remaining patron Asleep on the counter
What are the white, fluffy clouds saying as they watch over us?
It's Sunday morning, so I go for a walk on the lockdown streets. First, down the footpath, crossing a driveway, where a black cab waits at the McDonald's window, blowing white smoke, a masked face peering out. Then onto the avenue, where a glossy sign advertises a mansion for sale, where potted flowers are hanging over balustrades, and moss climbs on trunks. The sun is out but mist brushes against me, like wool. I look at a yellow-painted house. There is a wide-screen TV on the nature-strip. On to Petrie Square and light filters delicately through a stained-glass mural where in a sea of blue Virgin Mary is holding infant Jesus. A rain-drenched copy of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire lies abandoned on the grass. And at the corner of Alexandra Gardens, a night-globe blinks off; it is seven o'clock. The moon in daylight is a pleasure, even if sometimes I think it is like aspirin in a glass. I stop to read a sign beneath a tree: a bicentennial time capsule to be opened in 2088. There are several people of colour in the park today, which makes it cheerful and warm. Somebody has stuck a red blossom in the hands of a bronze sculpture embracing his lover. Elsewhere, art is serving a long sentence and visitors are banned. And so, one has had her constitutional, and one strolls back, past Charcoal Grill, with menus of rump for takeaway and the music posters now wasted and the golf shop on its last days. Two more corners and I am home. There, my heart is waiting in these pages by the window at my desk.
I thought those poplars were statues in the moonlight.
Words that misunderstand the heart’s native language The moon in daylight An invitation that comes in the middle of the night Loving with intelligence A fireplace, tropical home The sucking of a lung ventilator after the heart stops pumping Into a candy-floss dawning sky columns of smoke billowing The last chapter nobody reads because the plot is over A sepia photograph faded beyond recognition The honesty of the tide that returns all of its drowned A single light at 3 A.M. on a second-storey room in an inky town Hours spent at a tombstone Savouring poetry as a hungry man eats Wet socks The rich rainforest, underneath which carcasses are boiling with weeping rocks Reaching for the cookie-jar The bait past which a fish swims The only sound a vase ever makes striking the floor An immaculate room with no windows or door A granite blink An empty chair in a family picture A universe of falsehood Unpacking in front of your kids a bag of tins from the centre for free food A beautiful city that never gets dark The brilliant stains of agony the sun shoots into the west as it slides off the sea Wearing lipstick under a ski-mask A shadow moving across a field without bending a blade of grass A house, with one room permanently locked
Curfew Excepting an all-night globe palely burning the corridor at 5 A.M. was dark but for my iridescent shoes and a ribbon of light under the door three rooms away where a flush choked and swallowed as I strode past in silence not knowing this poem is for the interrupted-sleeper or early-riser who also perhaps was observing the curfew Late Scuff marks shimmering on the footstool. Still water in a glass. The soundless TV in liquid black and white. Somewhere, an infant's cry. Rhythmic and fleeting. As if the 8 o'clock sky has harvested it for dew. I close the August windows and read Hawthorne nearly weeping for his heroine, and think: what good fortune to be so happy we can mourn these imaginary lives.
Her Por Por’s (maternal grandmother in Cantonese) kitchen wall, sporting a flip-calendar, transistor radio, and condiments shelf is how artist-photographer Pia Johnson, of Chinese-Italian heritage, has chosen to honour her family history. Julie Dowling depicts herself and her twin sister as cheeky four-year-olds peering out from amongst their aboriginal relations in a colourful acrylic painting. Hoang Tran Nguyen opens the conversation about his Vietnamese subjects’ boat-trip to Australia with a re-enactment through video-stills.
Also featuring other artists, including Selina Ou, Donna Bailey, Hannah Gartside, A Family Album is an exercise to understand who we are and our place in time by examining fragments of our environment, past events, and our relationships in (and, with) those circumstances.
The exhibition, working through texture, is an interesting collage of settings and faces and emotions. Its intricate blend of love and pain, grief and nostalgia makes the viewer contemplate on their own story, and reach for that family album tucked away in the bottom-drawer, or somewhere deep in the recesses of the mind.
From Sat 31 October 2020
Until Sun 13 December 2020
I love walking through the woods On a spring morning, Alone, naked Under a dress, exploring The footpath Straggles onward into The mystery of the Primeval forest There's the smell of Damp leaves, Of wombats, sleep, Slow air, infinity I can see All the dark places where The sun has not yet reached, where A yellow flower is creeping from Its bud, where ant-trails ride across soil, Like hum-coloured taxis, and Giant trunks covered in rich lichen finery Farther along, I come to the widening track Where gleams of dawn Breaking through the stirring canopy Are at quiet play, where I stand scintillating in their splendour, Where trees speak the tongue Of bare skin on bedclothes I sit down on a luxuriant heap of moss In a gentle dell, with a brook Running over pebbles, Brown, sparkling sand I watch a low-bending branch Tease the current into cheery eddies; I hear the babble whisper tales From the thicket's heart Somewhere, a bird prattles on About last night's rain; Closer, a spider is Weaving a wedding veil As my attention draws near and out In the bosom of this primitive world It seems possible to trust in life, and Live simply on this earth