Vessel III

Alison Flett

 

After the meal     they sit together     at the table.

Striations of tomato sauce     cross their plates

showing the pathways     of their chips.

 

His reading glasses sit cross-legged     on the scrubbed wood.

In the lenses the reflection     of his face     is much smaller

than his actual face     the way she knows she holds      only the smallest

 

image of him     in her mind     never really knowing

who he is     who she is     where they stop

where the outside     begins.

 

She touches the back of his hand     where the star at the centre

of their universe has touched it     wrinkling and freckling

leaving its mark.     He knots his fingers     around hers.

 

Behind him     the kitchen door     is open.

An earlier rain has pixelated     the flyscreen     making a pattern

like a calendar     with some of the days     blocked in.

 

From outside     comes the racket of crickets

sawing through     the evening’s minutes

splitting them into     their infinite parts.

 

She lets go     his fingers     and watches

her hands     move in     around her cup

which is full of tea.     She blows down on it

 

so that the surface     coruscates into miniature     waves that break

against the inside edges     and move back to the centre     and she thinks

of the sound-waves     of the crickets     moving the hammer and anvil

 

in her ear     sending their song     to her brain     the way the outside

acts upon us     all the little     physical touches     so that we carry

the universe     in our skin     in our tiniest     of bones.

 

Wind blows through     the flyscreen     popping empty

some of the squares of water     changing the pattern.

She feels the rush of it     the sky moving in     around her

 

her self     becoming     part of it. Soon     she’ll get up     clear the table

but first she stops     to pay attention:      pigeons’ feet prattling

on the tin roof     blowflies elipsing     the porchlight like planets.

 

Even each of the spaces     between     the blades of grass     in the lawn

is alive with something:     beetles and grubs     seeds and roots

all     the little things     doing their work.     And what is her work?

 

Maybe it’s just to listen    to hold in her mind     the fraction of reality

that she can understand.     She can’t remember     what else she thought      she needed

but she knows now     this is all there is.     The myriad fragments of the world.

 

It is enough.

 

Alison Flett was born and bred in Scotland where she published three collections of poetry. Whit Lassyz Ur Inty (Thirsty Books, 2004) was shortlisted for the Saltire Book of the Year Award. Since moving to Adelaide in 2010 she has been published in various anthologies and journals and been guest poetry editor for Transnational Literature. In 2014 she was shortlisted for the Whitmore Press Manuscript Award.

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