1. After the Summer Season
After the summer season, with the miraculous
Cleansing of waters the first wave of winter
Sweeps in a flood the sun-hats and the surfboards,
The spotted scarves and the sunshades striped like candy,
The children screaming at the water’s edge with the seagulls
And the indolent sleepers on the sand—
Carries them in with a curl and a crash to the tramline
To the dignified bus like a rock to rebuff the confusion
And the foam and splash of departure.
Then from the roadway
The wave recedes with a sigh that hushes the houses
Where the flies settle in shuttered rooms and the cat abandoned,
Sleeks and prowls in the ivy.
And only at evening
Walks on the beach in the moonlight the lonely mermaid
Who married a mortal: who weeps at the edge of the water
Where the sand is like knives to her feet.
Gum-leaves and blackberries burnt on the fire with an autumn
Savour of sadness—smoke was bitter, contesting
With the crossed blades of sunlight parting the pine trees,
Detecting an ambush. Tongues of flame like slander
Blackened the billy, bubbling with anger.
Down in the gully
I was a child again, sailing
Twig boats on the rapids where a trickle of water
Foamed brown and golden over the rock ledge,
While the tadpoles (years and years ago) slipped through my fingers
And maiden-hair and mosses, resentfully,
Took down my footprints …
Dreaming by the fire I called myself, watching
For a child to run back through Time to a picnic.