Poems

Christopher Palmer: ‘Endling’ and ‘Where I go to disappear’

Endling
for Benjamin, the last thylacine

Like stripes they’ll love me, though they love me not.
Only I can know how the world sees me
and how I see the world. I walk my beat like a warning

the sum of all our days; subtraction after subtraction
until all that’s left is singlemindedness.
I know how slow we were; we didn’t see

how an unfolding story can be overwritten by time;
an ancient should amount to more than nothing.
But even water is remade, and our niche

will be filled by another—
probably that hairless and hungry animal
that only just passes for a species.

I copulate with the past
no longer listen to the sounds of nature;
instead, nature will play me back like a song,

and the lull after rain, the darting shape
in the shallows, that sound in the middle distance
will be my echo. I’ll be remembered in the wind’s will

wherever I paused to gauge the direction home. The soil
will taste my last traces and feel the last notes of body heat
for I came from the earth and will return to it

a subtle arrhythmia in its heartbeat.

Christopher Palmer

Where I go to disappear

The secret is looking busy as I try to stand out
among all the refugees from other careers;
living the one-upmanship of the sun and moon

moving between light and fright. That,
and the regular fondle by a supermarket
because it listens, really listens, to my needs.

Mel’s visiting from the goldilocks zone on level 10;
says she likes being attacked by magpies
as she feels closer to nature. I have my inbox for that;

full of accounts of subway dogs in Russia
and photos of cats in strange poses.
I look outside, see what kind of day it is

but it only rains inside.
The conversation takes a dramatic turn
from what happened last weekend to the lure

of the next one; until my Significant Other
pops up from behind a partition
—an empire spanning both hemispheres—

rejecting possibility with something like
the wind’s defiance;
like the man without a face who answers my query

about freedom of information
with his recipe for a sensory salad. He sends
a customer experience survey for the interaction

addressed to a journeyman who’s bottle-deep
in concentration; an everyman who’s always
half in love with someone else; a nobody who shouts

don’t you know who I am.

Christopher Palmer

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