“Poem of the contaminated city: I shot an arrow into the air and it stuck.”
Found in Madrid.
leave skin at my feet,
a welcome home perfumes the air
I look for my comfort trees, sometimes find them, their branches used for vase decoration, for colds and runny noses. I look for origins in trunks and leaves, my check-list of colours and how they drop their leaves.
imagined moods picked out of books
feel them now,
dry leaves call as they fall
In cities trunks have a patch of compressed earth between cement. The ground looses body heat at night but can’t reach past the cement insulating footsteps from the cooling land.
military lines buck heads,
one leg to stand in sand
between rows of roofs and the roving sea
In Melbourne trees are dying, now reaching the end of their useful life. Expecting leafy greens, they’re replaced before bare frames become iconic. In a valley dam water drowns the feet of the trees, still standing silhouettes not yet ready to fall.
dry wood holding still
white lines fall between new growth
Die-off: the ‘off’ easing conversations about the dead thousands into a controllable drift.
a break in the conversation –
missing the link
I stand alone in a crowd
But when you walk between them you feel the ghosts in their bird-light frames, corpses still standing, rotting in breezes until a wind pushes over vacated wood as light as furniture. You can feel the calls of those left finding the spaces between their feet where their whole once stood.
last light through thinning skin
before the fall,
winds pick up
Some related poems and photos:
I travelled by land this time, relying on memory stagnating for ten years to get me from the station to where I was going – no route in particular. New buildings hid that plan from action, so I just wandered instead. Streets brought memories, yet didn’t.
surprised down memory lane
the wind kicks,
witness my steps hesitate
Stone paths washed with footsteps to enable a smooth shuffle, I was another tourist who looked down dark streets that evaded the sun. I noticed it was humid, I’d only remembered the cold.
interior design exposed and humid,
this lane’s light
flakes in a colour unknown to me
Searching for the unfamiliar, I found it. Last time I walked into routines, I learnt the city in islands, walking certain routes but uncurious as to what was in between. I walked those spaces and accidentally found things:
the singing chair,
breeze sea air
Exiled memories informed my steps but I broke the architecture of a shadowed past.
the backbone holds
lines against skies,
glass keeps weather from hitting the ground
I wandered alone to find the heart of the old city, fresh to me. It sat on top of the other one I held in my head.
a change in tone I almost feel
soon rubbed off on me its local hue
now I pass, fast
It’s just a street light.
I’d built my familiarity of this place with all the questions I didn’t know to ask.
Did this place seem new-familiar because I had so many blind spots before? I pull together events with a thin thread through time and place. But what’s mostly left is the things I think I learnt, misremembered like a dream that leaves its taste.
This city and I had moved on from the interdependence we used to have.
Short poems and photos from Valencia: