Walking with Words
—Attrib. Augustine of Hippo
As dusk settles I take to the pathway
With the sounds of the night along my track:
A luminous jogger in Le Coq Sportif
Dragging his way to a heart attack,
A family of bikes, late shoppers clutching
Fabric bags, couples strolling with their dogs
And furtive kids sneaking out of backyards
For a smoke or a pash behind the logs
And slippery dips beside the creek.
I slow down by the climbing frame and watch
My regulars roll in sight around the bends,
Slip their Alsatian back on the leash
And glide along before their story ends,
So off he went to the pub again
And All he ever does on Sunday is both …
Fragments of speech which hover in air
And settle in thought like pieces of cloth
I fold away on the shelves of memory.
In countless passings as our tracks crisscross,
Near the telephone booth resisting mould
Or the fading tractor in the playground,
They loom out of the darkness to unfold
Their confidences, or I surprise them
Deep in exchange in the bus shelter,
Not really fertile but she let it go
After the first time and In the helter
Skelter last week … snippets of self released
From the weight of the day as they confer
The power of words upon each other,
Releasing the odds and ends of their lives,
Weaving their stories as teller and hearer
Wrapped in the blanket of the darkness
Which I fold back as I search for the sight
Of the loom of language within our selves,
Recalling these fragments of the night
Stored in the secret places of thought.
Their words drift with the sounds of the dark
Flowing in mist through the waves of the trees:
The song of the frogs from the bed of the creek,
Boys calling out as they fish for yabbies,
The music of crickets and the cries of birds.
A dog barks. I walk the vowels of the night
And float in the language of all their echoes.
A car starts. Voices drift away in flight
Like the call of a night bird from its nest
Or the fading sounds of distant shouts.
The lights go out in the clubhouse building
And cars slide off into the darkness.
As night deepens my rhythm is yielding
To the narrators of the telling dark
Whose words I shape as I frame this form
Leaving these parts of myself in the air
Where the ghosts of the track glide through the poem
Whose burden I wish that they could hear.