Poets of Australia


Peter Boyle

To J

Hard to talk about the missing parts
of ourselves - the ghost limb, the graft that never took,
the other marriage with the other children,
the other death.
I read a poem about Heaven
and remember I once wrote my own poem about Heaven,
how it descends on any day among us
and we might walk around in it,
never knowing its closeness
or its forgiving refusal to be named.

In dreams you travel with me
beyond all ruptures or bitterness,
beyond painšs destructiveness, the self-imposed exile,
my bleeding incompetently
watching the decades vanish.
Your blue eyes of twenty
steady my fifty year old head.

Not speaking for years,
our ghosts would know each other.

The Unknowable

Who had children. Who died.
Who found himself lucky after thirty years
and stumbling home realised
it was a simple error.
Who ruled behind the scenes in the Department of Misinformation,
who was later conscripted
to underwrite Armageddon.
Whose hand was lost in a sawmill
and was met again as the strange dust
of a new-found galaxy.
Who migrated to the other world
but came home to bury the dog.
Who divorced and died of alcoholism
in the country town where destiny misplaced him.
Who topped high school, failed everything else
twice, married money, then slept through
the death of three children.
Who was invisible, became a wall, became a street,
entered real estate, bought a city,
retired into owning world opinion.
Who saw his son indicted for reluctance, shackled and maimed,
blamed for the colour of the sky.
Who inscribed his name in the old script,
the one no one reads anymore,
the one where things inscribe themselves
so what they are
reads itself back
in us.
Who was my shadow when daylight was.

Peter Boyle is an Australian poet living in Sydney. His three collections of poetry, Coming home from the world (1994), The Blue Cloud of Crying (1997), and What the painter saw in our faces (2001) have received several awards including the New South Wales Premier's Award and the South Australian Festival Award. His next collection of poetry, Museum of Space, is due to be published by University of Queensland Press in 2004. His translations of French and Spanish poetry have appeared in such reviews as American Poetry Review and Jubilat. His next book as a translator is The Trees: selected poems of Eugenio Montejo, forthcoming with Salt Publishing.

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