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,

Arched windows

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.



Fragments from an Australasian Life
Thorold MAY
copyright Thorold May 1995 All Rights Reserved 
published by The Plain & Fancy Language Company ACN 1116240S Sydney, Australia
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