Lives reflect like a film by Resnais,
children, divorces, loving well,
some storm, some calm, loving no longer.
Days drain into the gulf of middle age.
He remembers curls on her nape,
her head turned to blow smoke away.
Tracking her, logic gets ambushed,
foolish assumptions, a wrong address.
A postal worker, an obvious TV fan
with an old-time attitude to service,
places a newspaper ad., proving
the Dead Letter Office still has a pulse.
Her answering machine a reprieve
but as he backslides into relief
his phone, shrill, throbbing, stabs him.
No time to organize his thoughts,
he clears his throat, slowly reaches out.
A lot can change over twenty-five years.
The rush hour trains shaking their floor,
blood stirring under his scars.
He presses fingers to temples,
ponders a decision about a haircut
willing himself to match her bravery
as questions needing details line up.
In the chill of her parents’ spare room
where she once joined twin beds
back when they disapproved of him
she shrinks, balancing at the bed’s hard edge,
hugging the secrets of her blowzy body.
First, he tries common sense, then foolery.
She believes he aches with lust, not love,
knows her mind doesn’t impress him,
counts days remaining until her 40th.
Earlier, their L-plate daughter driving fast,
him talking charming nonsense, impressing her
while she’s with their luggage she always packs,
kangaroos had bounced across the road
so close to silencing them all.
She hates his façade of recklessness
in the face of prospective disaster.
Yet more self-indulgence she thinks,
wanting him to just shut the fuck up.
Before she yelled Slow down damn you,
Worry a fluttering pennant,
they had overtaken a unicyclist,
his jacket puffed up by slipstreams.
She felt concern for him juggling fatigue,
flying dust, debris, rain like nails,
maintaining his composure, brave
mile after wind-buffeting mile
while an uncaring world hurtled by.
The next day she jogs around the country town,
winter morning light brilliant, cleansing.
She had turned to him, gruffly at first,
when he reached across, his hand hot.
Submissive, quickened, she felt in control,
her pliancy his Braille, his weakness.
He seemed not to notice her plumper flesh.
When they got up he had pinched her arse.
She breathes hard, a watching crow cries out.
Ian C Smith’s work has appeared in Axon:Creative Explorations,The Best Australian Poetry,Chiron Review, Island, Southerly,& Westerly His fifth book is Contains Language,Ginninderra Press (Adelaide). He lives in the Gippsland Lakes area of Victoria, Australia.