Tinsheet is banging in the wind
somewhere in my street
desultory yet sharp against wood roof supports.
I cannot sleep;
I see that tin, dented, self-igniting;
burnt-butter-grins like the copper jar from England
that hugged and smashed the fire
one winter in a farmhouse smoking room.
Such ceilings —
asleep in gloom
while the fire tried with fingers dipped in heat
to strip their dark sheet,
but each time fell back and cindered into bits.
This noise outside my window brings it back
to scutter with micey feet —
how we’d play Scrabble or sometimes read
or just listen to the windmill pumping squeaks;
then, if it was bitter
and the pepperinas streamed,
if the geese shrieked at foxes and they said,
‘those young pines will be flattened’ or
‘what about the sheep?’
we’d line up, discreetly shoving
to have sugar-syruped eucalyptus in a spoon.
That place, those faces
now are peeling off like skin;
each crash from that tinsheet slaps
on plates of solder like cataractic scales;
my new flesh cringes.
Now, always, I have dreams of weather vanes
with shattered tails,
of the wind prancing east
heaving itself into the sea
and peoples’ backs
veering away from me.