The Wrong Address index
Pitt Street, Newcastle NSW 1981
Old privet makes a wedding arch of dark lace
And sprinkles morning sunshine on the path.
This place is touched and greeted
By the mumur of wind chimes.
All who pass are marked and known;
Our echo is stolen and kept among the leaves
For the reckoning that comes before we part.
The coal pits were not a daily deadly chore
Haunting the first masters here.
Their sons and daughters came home twice a year,
In spats or tresses,
To play languid badminton on lawns
Only faintly dusted by passing winds with grime.
Our new aristocracy dissects the scented air
With stranger energies; tai-chi arms
Drift in slow motion, catching `tiger's paw',
And bodies bend to `lotus leaf unfolding'.
Roaring steel mills under the valley ridge
Still smudge their signature on a low, pale sky.
`House' is a humble word,
Kept for places in the suburbs,
Narrow of eaves and mean,
Boxy rooms painted in cautious pastel shades.
But number two Pitt Street shrugs that epithet
And spreads her verandahs,
Encrusted flourishes of Victorian ironwork,
Tinged with an exhuberant solemnity of leadlight.
She defies the workaday shame of neighbours -
Jostling heaps of houses stickytaped with tarseal,
A choking necklace of humanity beyond the hedge.
I am admitted to vague company, bare forked limbs
Without a stitch of repartee,
Owners absent without leave
In the quest of holy grails, prime numbers,
Alchemy for rings of power.
The vaulted rooms are barely disarrayed
As we pass each other in elliptical orbits;
Our masses align briefly while muesli is digested
According to the laws of planetary motion,
And words fall among the utensils,
Bereft of interpretation
In the unfocused gaze of my new acquaintances.
They have their passions though, these wraiths.
MacPine, weary of the electron microscope,
May bend his will upon a startled piano
And let his fingers loose to titillate the aspidistras
With plangent waves of a Faure impromtu.
Unshakeably attatched to the mystic self,
Oblivious of music, Hossbone snaps and winds
Through the stretched angles of endless katas,
Seeking Zen ( or is it reassurance ?)
In a new twist of each pliant muscle.
We are drawn to imitate,
Inveigled to acknowledge a master by playing noviates
To the mortal risk of Hwa Rang Taikwon Do.
Square-bodied Sunshine lends her passion
To freewheeling lean bicycles,
And packing her lunch in a plastic bag one day,
Like Oates of the Antarctic, steps outside
Into the blizzard of free air;
A carefree adventure for seven hundred miles,
Joyful pedal-power to Melbourne she says,
But we know her step too well...
A journey out of one man's life,
Right off the edge of the planet.
More calculating women call at night, a subtle exchange
Whose terms have layers of sweat and promise.
In the dim stale-smelling jumble of his lair
Hossbone clambers spiderlike
Over dour Kylene's heavy-duty frame
Looking for pressure points on her pale hard flesh,
The mirror of a hard pale mind.
There are no surprises
Until the lady, scoring a black-belt
Through a lucky break in Hossbone's vain defence
Changes her appointment calendar
To take in an investment class instead.
Zeta plays girlish for MacPine
Who believes in fairies
And love at the bottom of the garden -
Squished figs on the clover
And giggles in the metaphors.
Bred on more barren ground, spoiled for free dinners,
The tilt of her nose infects me
With an allergy of acute distrust;
But my nettle is no match for MacPine's hallucination,
Until the planets realign over the muesli,
Where wide-eyed Zeta finds Hossbone bereft
And tries for infinite flexibility.
In the skirts of the old lady herself,
Perched on the front steps
Between the plaster lions, I like to pause
On long, warm evenings, and listen
For the rustle of wind in the leaves.
Our cloistered infidelities
Are faintly dusted here with honest grime,
While the roaring steel mill under the valley ridge
Smudges its reckoning on a low pale sky.
© copyright Thorold May 1995 All Rights Reserved
published by The Plain & Fancy Language Company ACN 1116240S Sydney, Australia
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