Unwelcome Fixity

Robyn Rowland

Once a week my respite in this old 
family beach house my uncle built, and 
him buried last May with his ten watchers. 
Sitting inside this stillness, this suspension, 
unencumbered momentarily, I watch at 
Barrack Point the sea entering the small 
inlet to Little Lake, our headland one side, 
rocky breakwater the other, turf brown.

Ripples, small waves fringed white incoming, 
shimmer with suns’ silver phosphorescence, 
and it keeps moving, tippling over itself. 
Such gentleness, while outside the arm of that
stony bulwark, a rough sea crashes, thuds, 
driving into dissolving sands. Tomorrow, 
translucent blue, the estuary will run fast, 
back to the wind-flattened Pacific.

At my father’s house five minutes away,
this slow rhythm is hard to find. Vertical 
blinds intimate bars in the prison of caring,
and outside, our jailing by Covid. Inside 
I made this riotous greenhouse of anthuriums, 
wax reds and corals, Turkish rugs,
embroideries. All just things. But bright, 
to colour the eye, to remember, to pretend.

On his deck here everything moves, waves 
pummel, sound rushes and bashes into the house
driving the wind before it salt-laden.
Ant-like, I busy around all the domestics
a loved old man needs, while that ocean
blows wildly through multiple cracks and 
gaps opened by age and disrepair, fluttering 
everything inside next to billowing candle-flame.

Out on that wide space, when I came,
sad at his sudden ebbing, his need finally
at 100 years, pots of rose terracotta and indigo 
I had lugged up the stairs to crowd its vacancy
with blood-bright geraniums, Big Red,
embraced by royal-purple lobelia. These same 
plants I use in every country I inhabit, to tell me, 
that stuck, immobile, just now this must be home.

Robyn Rowland: lived in Ireland and Turkey until late 2019; now in Australia. She has 11 poetry books, most recently Under This Saffron Sun – Safran Güneşin Altında, (Knocknarone, Ireland 2019), This Intimate War Gallipoli/Çanakkale 1915 – İçli Dışlı Bir Savaş: Gelibolu/Çanakkale 1915 (repub. Spinifex Press, Australia, 2018) bilingual,Turkish translations Mehmet Ali Çelikel. Her poetry appears in national/international journals in eight countries, forty-five anthologies, eight editions of Best Australian Poems. She has read in India, Portugal, Ireland, UK, USA, Greece, Austria, Bosnia, Serbia, Turkey and Italy, and is published in translation. She is filmed reading for National Irish Poetry Reading Archive, James Joyce Library, UCD. YouTube. https://robynrowland.com

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