Photo by John Williams (2009)






































物の哀れ The pathos of things

A man lies awake
in the dark
hears a dog-fox bark
sees sound enter
through the thin blue blind
and thinks:
I am broken
but alive.

standing outside a shop window
big as an ocean liner
lights winking as if sailing on a voyage
there’s a cowboy in the window
riding an imitation bronco
and wearing a cowhide suit
with cowhide flares
I want that suit so much
scream so loud a woman swears
but my dad says that’s not how it works
so we go down to the market
via Yates’s Wine Lodge
buy a Christmas tree
and a dolly’s dinner service
for my sister’s stocking
on the bus back
my dad gets into an argument
fist smacks
plates fly
some roll under seats
some land in laps
one spins off the bus
onto the road
bounces once.

in the shadow of a crumbling factory
where power- looms
once whirled
a scrubby garden
the precision
of a spiders’ web
buds unfurl
in pale sunlight
the geometry of slate.
Gravity turns raindrops
into falling stones
the earth crawls.

you hang on the corner
fizzing like a broken neon sign
still he doesn’t show
delay calibrated
to squeeze
maximum compliance
each second
another turn of the screw

a car slows
black window winds down
insinuating finger crooks
dirty notes swapped
for a tiny wrap
and the finger withdraws
slides gently down yours
leaving an intimate

It took all the morning after
stacking empty champagne bottles
prising cigarettes from flower beds.
I swept confetti from the spot
where she’d stepped
into the limousine
and turned to throw the bouquet
that her sister failed to catch.
I tried to remember Cherry Tree Woods
the three of us
chasing squirrels
under an impossible blue haze.
Saw only the empty carousel
the deserted rocking horse.

On Upper Street
an eiderdown of snow dropped in
then settled for the night.
Some passers-by
kneeled down
as if to take communion
caught a fleeting wafer
on their tongues
then photographed each other
on their mobile phones.