Monday, December 17, 2007


1 ― Purging the story

The weather here runs on a different set of variables: the collective sum total of wish intensity. Oddly, the least common weather is a clear blue sky. Here, speculation about a God is more intense than ever.

House and forest merge. My bed is a downy tree canopy. At first I thought there was no sleep here, until I found that night must be invited. A nut on the limb of the lowest branch rolls under my sleep, rubs me with earthy dreams.

Destinations are intentions. Tomorrow I will travel to 1912 to see where that photo of my grandfather was taken: somewhere in Deutschland, port town, river town, corner of a brick building, nondescript reflections in the windows. I also want to meet that old spark of his. What is that book, held loose in her hands, hung loose over a peasant smock?

on leave photo
hand on mother's chair ― 1917
the world in their faces

They say that from each point in time you can test the crossroads and see what else might have been, even the hazy blue where you never were. Those who have visited there report the sound of a great spacious note, quavering with a fifth above, something like a bell, but in a vocal space, and giddy with a constant sense of expansion.

I was told it is the voice of the muse. Others claim it is deity. Some just say it is what it is.

Today, a red frog hopped into the kitchen, sat on the white tiles and all my turmoil of the jobs I hated flowed out of me. “Yes!” I said “you sure were hungry.” “Croak!” said the bloated frog and hopped away.

2 ― Limbo

The dance as a form of transport ― we arrive where we started, but lighter with dizziness, almost childlike. Sometimes I see wings come out of people's mouths when they speak. I met a man who spoke bat wings, a woman who spoke hummingbird. I'm told my dialect is a mixture of albatross and crow with some occasional cockatoo.

We are no longer tone deaf in our conversations: - A sister of my grandfather said to me, “Sing along with the bouncing heart.”

country road
in the irrigation ditch
the moon follows

One of the favoured pastimes here is to ride the slippery slide. There is always a happy queue. There I met the boy who fell off the slippery slide in the school playground when we were in grade two. He broke his arm. He was with his twin brother. They invited me to go and play in the old quarry. Visiting that filled in place, I caught a glimpse of myself talking to the sky, “Are you there God, are you there?”

I felt like I was at the edge of a whirlpool, and nothing but blue sky ringing back tones of blue.

old factory
beams and joists and weeds ― sound
a car starting

3 ― Fading echoes

I woke up with that rushing sound you get when you are about to faint. Only twice in my life had I known it. First, when giving blood and the other was like some omen the heart would tell about my son's future. I was talking to the paediatrician late in my wife's first pregnancy, when suddenly the air was let out of the valve that pressurises the senses. Now, though, I wasn't fading to black.

There was a fine corona around everything. It seemed to me the meaning of everything was expanding like the universe. Talking to the universe, I said “The afterlife is no more than perceiving the expansion of meaning.” Another voice in me added, “So you say!”

hands in coat pockets
through marram grass dunes
gray sky gray sea

As if I was the pebble bed of a clear stream, shudders of light on the surface. As if I was some place years away, thousands of miles away, a child or the memory of childhood. Sheets are pulled up to my nose in frosty darkness. The rest of the world could be thousands of miles away, in the next room and I was receiving faint crystal-set-radio-voices. Those voices expanded through my life, and now...

4 am
the frost breaker

by Jeffrey Harpeng
Macgregor, Queensland, Australia

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