If your cupboards need their darkest ends
deskeletoned you can’t go past it. When
your kindly Charon styx that needle in
the ghosts that webbed their screening rings
around a five-year night
ooze out and shrink there, blinking in the light.
The same light scours out other nooks and brings,
from other crannies, half-forgotten things
that, once recalled, can ventilate a day.
River-gums, for instance, grey, decayed
and charred — and yet they bloomed
with cockatoos each summer afternoon.
A row of sulphur-crested jester-heads
squawked raucous choruses amongst a spread
of ravaged, crumbling, hollow limbs that hung
there pink in sunset. Then the gums,
birds, stream and sky grew grey
and outlines merged as daylight ﬂowed away.
And little things— like watching calloused hands
peel oranges and squeeze out rainbow hands
sun-struck from drifting mists of vapour sprayed
from tearing skin. The spectrum stayed
a second then, but when
an orange spurts now, hands are there again.
Sometimes I think the trip was worth it. Though
I’ve left the festering spectres that I knew
I’ve kept the spectra — and the cockatoos.
Socrates: “Crito, we owe a debt to Asclepius. Will you
see that it is settled?”
Crito: “The debt shall he paid.” (Plato’s ‘Phaedo’)