Poetry

Night at the Rottonest Island Hotel

It’s not really like Rosalie’s Good Eats Café,

There are sorrows and blunders and strife

But other things too, for this funny old pub

Has at least its full share of true life.

There’s a seven-year-old in pyjamas who stands

And looks out from a window upstairs.

He’s clever: he’s made his own time-machine

And it’s giving him flashes of years.

The off-season’s ending, the island prepares

For crowds who’ll be coming here soon.

A scratch-crew is manning the stools in the bar

And the beer-garden under the moon.

There’s a middle-aged widow and her teenage son,

He’s bored, he’d like girls or more beer

Even some friends his own age would be nice

He wishes his mother weren’t here.

His mother can sense it, only too well

She can’t reach him, although she can try.

(She painted a scene at the lighthouse at dawn.

He’ll look at it one day and cry.)

A genteel English lady is taking it in,

She makes her martini last

She comes from a distant and murderous war,

But that is all long in the past.

Her husband will come on tomorrow’s boat,

They’ll hire bicycles at the store,

Watch birds, watch the sunset over the lakes

And not ask for anything more.

There’s an old man alone bent over a glass

With his face as blank as a wall.

He’ll never let anyone guess that he’s come

To say goodbye to it all.

The bespectacled lawyer drinking his beer

Lost the love of his life months ago.

He’s surprised he’s not shaken it off with a laugh,

He’s surprised that the healing’s so slow.

Now the girl that he met while sailing today

Is staying here at the hotel

He’s too shy and uptight when looking at her

To see that she wants him as well.

She’s not wearing much sitting there on the stool

And she looks at his friend with a smile

He still isn’t getting it yet, the poor fool,

But maybe he will in a while.

There’s a man and a woman sitting outside

With their toes in the cool silver sands.

They met here twenty-five years ago.

They’re holding each other’s hands.

They know each other’s being with renewed

Senses of love and surprise

And the moon, with its splendid sense of cliché

Reflects as a light in their eyes.

They kiss and they whisper, trying to express

The things at the limits of speech.

In the water’s last shallows the little top-shells

Tinkle and wash on the beach.

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