I don't know why it is but thoughts of the past and home always come to me in stark relief when I travel away. In this instance, the theme of water connected dry Toodyay where a friend and I existed on rainwater for awhile to Perth where water restrictions are now year-round and Linfen which is having an unusually wet time of it lately, and which simply gets muddier and messier with the rain. Why the sonnet form - possibly because it was a consciously planned project from the start, and also because Tom Shapcott has used the form with such success in writing of the five senses and his hands, etc.
Here are the poems, still in draft form:
Late Summer, Outside Toodyay
He walks down their block to dump the litter.
White quartz glistens in the sunshine
Like luxurious jewellery strewn among
Dry sticks and curling leaves. Black bush ants
Climb in raggedy line, driven by desire.
He pisses on a struggling eucalypt, thinking,
My body of water is the most moisture
From here to the Kalgoorlie pipeline.
Before the rain arrives—‘If it bloody comes,’
As she says—he climbed the ladder to clean out
The gutters where the rain will flow
To fill the water-tank which today echoes.
In late summer, they shower with buckets
Beneath them to save water for the carrots.
Water Restrictions, Suburban Perth
He puts The West inside, comes outside and uncoils
the hose. It’s not their day to use the retic.
6.30 and already it’s a scorcher. First, he waters
The roses. She loves the roses and he smiles
At twin buds atop the pink one. Then,
The grass. All the way to the curb because
They claim the verge as part of their lawn.
More water, though, and more mowing.
The grass struggles in patches and he waters them
Extra. That bloke behind often misses
the drive and flattens it to death. Bastard.
He’s off in his dream-world again when he
Hears his name and sees her at the door.
She raises her nightie slowly and smiles.
More Rain Today
Late Summer, Linfen
More rain today than fell last year. Pollution
coats the buildings as rain falls perpendicular.
Linfen’s drainage system overflows
and baby-faced police huddle in muddy vans
but the townsfolk welcome the wash:
a little soap in the alleys’ armpits,
sunny deodorant with dawn perhaps.
Inside, street vendors huddle, stretching
yesterday’s Yuans like old inner tube.
The gatekeeper pulls a grey sheet over
his knobbly knees on his roadside cot.
Beyond Linfen city, farmers wave as
roads run with mud and crops drink deep.
Tomorrow shines like sunflowers in their eyes.
28/8/2006 & 30/8/2006