29 Dec 2009

The border loss -- Jennifer Maiden

[1949–current, Australian]

depresses, discolours his vision.
Rainlight depresses the room,
the fire, snug as fantasy,
imperative to sanity this time.

I say, “They say in danger one’s
instincts are always wrong.” “Not if
you’ve perverted your instructs as long
as I have,” he responds. I study
his auden-face, destroyed
by reason’s pits and lines.

So highly strung, so debonair,
the violin confiding her
meditative scandals to
his yielding concentration.

“Intellect being mostly the
knack of half-recovery –
recuperation? – so the stupid
do hurt themselves more
& aggress more
in love, not knowing why”

all taut resistance in the voice, the face
deceiving by its bookish
reassurance, & the voice
as angry as an alcoholic sigh.

on the candlesticks entwine
smug cherubim & mighty in
all their dainty pudgy
little powers, reflecting some
harmless breathless insouciant
truculence in his charm.
He builds skilfully, times
it to topple, but so slowly

“There were elaborate warranties
built into her hints
& spontaneities. I always
seemed to agree more formally
than seemed to be required.”

I’m slammed into his voice, I feel
its night-rattle, a lorry
to buck & bruise slow missions through the storm.

    I offer
“I thought that one was inter-
resting. That one almost won.”

Always he loses, needing
always to more than answer,
always to fulfil.
“The need makes me debauch,
make ritual,
make safe. When young
I’d a simple cruel urge to destroy
the destructive & to be,” his tone
seductive as a reaction, but
using his breath to tame
a grieving constriction in his lungs.

Womanless, the room suggests
muskily migraine & tampons &
mild pleasure mild duty mild martyrdom.

Source: Maiden, J 1979, The Border Loss, Angus and Robertson Publishers.

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