RITES OF ARRIVAL

THE GREAT DEPRESSION

 On the scrubbed deal table there is
 a single jar of stiff and sugary jam,
 my grandmother has made
 from Moreton Bay figs
 because there is no substitute
 and they are the kind accident
 of wild fruits and Spring.

 The sun in its peculiar path
 and enigmatic journey
 will catch the small glass jar
 and refract slowly
 through its reds and browns.

 My father will spread some on 
 what scraps of bread and toast remain
 down a string of hungry years:
 economists in time
 will fix and date and classify,
 and try to explain
 by stats and tomes and tables.

 But licking a sweet-sour spoon
 of his mother's confection:
 the sort of skimp and save
 is known now could ruin the liver
 and damage the bowel -
 he is transfixed by brief sunshine,
 through a jar of jam.

LIVES FROM A COUNTRY TOWN

 i.

 The woman in the bakery
 has eyes like empty cake tins
 her skin the colour
 of dough before baking
 the breadslicer ate her thumb and
 she has cooked all of her fingers
 over and over again
 her spirit drained into 20 years
 of getting yeast to rise
 yet every day the town eats up
 all that she can make.

 ii.

 An old slow-eyed farmer
 in a sweat rubbed khaki shirt
 still rolls his cigarette beneath
 the SERV-WEL shop verandah
 spits in small damp denominations
 and talks endlessly of rain
 sitting in shadows
 dust beneath his patient
 grinding boot-heel
 still powders into light and here
 he is the final metaphor for life.

 
 
 
© 2020 Jeff Guess