1 The sky reels, crowded with flying foxes From an island in the river, spreading Over this makeshift town now flickering In the wind. Inside paper and boxes Of sculpture accumulate like dead skin, The residue of past dreams. The wind whips Across time and the grey afternoon slips Into night. Shadows move in. Flapping tin, Cars and the humming refrigerator, Sounds as one thing strikes against another Fuse in the intricate clockwork of night. Pitted against the wind, dreams and pages Flapping, we find ourselves in failing light Following threads that wind through the ages. 2 Wide eyed to the night, in this hollow house Wading through my dreams, the past collected In little things, books piled high by the bed, Memories gathered on the luminous Air and dust in places we don’t walk, A thousand golden lions now softly Shimmering through this fabric that nightly Folds around us and rising in the talk Of strangers carried on the wind. Night parts Us from certainty, the wind stops and starts, Changing gear a car roars and gathers pace And as the distant voices fade and fall Other whispers sweep in to take their place, Bats jitter, a branch scrapes against a wall… 3 Here and now, the wind whistling through the teeth Of time, in the rain, silver beads rolling Off the long leaves of the palms and falling To be swallowed in the yard underneath. This house straddles the past, the ancient face Of a swamp swimming through time, in the rain, Frogs and reeds in its hair, things that have lain Long in the ground come to life and the place Cracks and bleeds with sound, two worlds overlap, The ancient gods seem happy. Palm trees flap In the steady rain as we move inside And think no one understands how we feel, On this stolen ground, our fears magnified, In this eggshell house where our shadows reel. 4 Dead banana leaves, their yellow mummy Fingers rasping, a storm that draws the last Cold winds of winter and a shadow cast In my mind that grows. Across the valley Lights appear on the hill. The calm is laced. Cold tongues of wind lick the corners of this Room. A bird drops from the eaves, flies, the hiss Of wings in the undulating sea displaced. Trauma rolls, a ghost reel plays, and tired Actors take their places inside your head. Where we now stand, the ground shifts. It frightens Us and, in the shadow-wall we are hurled Against, we see the other. Night thickens And the void of our fear sucks in the world. 5 A twilight on this house now falls, stretching The Night’s margin, hauling the half-shadow Of the world. We glimpse things we did not know Still lived, watch them take shape on the shifting Grey wind. Winding round this house, unbridled Horses, in rush-light ghost through a dust like Fine mist or bone. While twilight branches spike The sky, the horses, their manes unravelled, Melt back into the pure obsidian night. As Time wields an arc of stars, throwing light Through black sky, we huddle in small shelters Worrying at the bones of a future We have already eaten. The cat purrs And, in gusts, the wind rattles at the door.
Andrew Shillam is a sculptor and poet living in Grafton, Australia. He studied Visual Art at Newcastle University in the 1990s and started writing around that time. He has been involved with Newcastle’s Poetry at the Pub scene and regularly performs his poetry in online groups in Australia and overseas. His recent poetry is concerned with stimulating an experience and a sense of the mystery of place through imagery and sound in a modern sonnet form.