Volume LIII Number 12
Quadrant magazine is the leading general intellectual journal of ideas, literature, poetry and historical and political debate published in Australia.
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Every sock in the bunch you’re holding
is a dangling single. You wonder how many more
must be mouldering, partnerless, stuck in drawers.
Later, on the way to work, you remember
the lost mug patterned with rosemary you think
an absent-minded friend slipped into her bag,
and picture the half-dead umbrella you left on a bus.
But all this is trivial on a day when the smudged air
is buzzing with the loss of jobs, self-respect, children.
Hopeless, you fold the newspaper, turn to now—
this moment on a train underground: that black lad,
beautiful in his pale blue anorak. You try to work out
why his hands are across his eyes. To block out
the world as he listens to the sounds wires
are bringing to his ears? To survey the carriage?
Already this now has passed out of reach, become
a memory which will sink or swim among millions
of others in your mind’s measureless caverns.
Now, you visualize time as unstoppable sand falling
through a sieve, count the growing refusals
of your body. They remind you a moment will come
when you’ll lose the privilege of consciousness,
remind you not to hang around limply as a sock
but to forestall this last loss with findings:
a sparrowhawk perched on your gate, eyes alert
for prey, words that toadleap from imagination,
from heart—to make sure every day is a finding.
The Quadrant Book of Poetry: 2001 - 2010
edited by Les Murray