28 February 2007

IN EXIGENT TIMES (a poem to be read aloud)

Crowding along the cracks running down Broadway toward the pillowy sheets littering the harbour he stops in for a short black, one sugar.

In reality, he’s a cappuccino drinker, one sugar, chocolate on top, but there is almost nothing worse than a cappuccino in a takeaway cup.

In the end, he was always left with a cup of foam, chocolate still on top, drained of all espresso.

Walking hand in hand with his own apprehension he is suddenly aware of the restlessness of the trees that line the street.

In captivity all their lives they are dreaming of life in the wild, beside a muddy riverbank or hidden deep in the bush crawling with wetas.

As he passes, he leans into each one, “Go free little tree,” he whispers, “Go free little one.”

His self-consciousness lifts. He makes eye contact, smiles caringly at a nice young couple passing by, then makes a little wave to a shopkeeper.

As the boulevard crests, the harbour’s breath chills him, lifting his shirttails, first front, then rear.

He is reminded of his liberty as he watches two women wrestle their hair back in place – he has been free now for nearly twenty years.

A hasty right turn brings him into a small, whitish gallery. After initial fascination with the plush wall-to-wall and the stark white everything, he finds the paintings have surrounded him. He’s been left alone with them.

Suddenly he has no where to run from the tightly dressed, sophomoric docent, who has begun to tell him things he’d rather not know about things of which he has not inquired.

Moving toward the door. Scampering toward the light. He whispers to himself, “Go free. Go free little one.”

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