Volume LIV Number 7-8
Quadrant magazine is the leading general intellectual journal of ideas, literature, poetry and historical and political debate published in Australia.
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Lunch in the Garden
How still is the life on that table set
for lunch in the garden? The white cloth spread,
knives and forks, a basket of fruit,
ham and salad, cheese and bread,
still life indeed and fixed in place, yet
when a breeze disturbs the shade
of a stand of casuarinas, splintered light
seems to put everything in flight.
Holding up my glass, a flash of olive green
and yellow tells me I’ve just seen
a lorikeet speed to his favourite tree,
Callistemon linearis—but bottlebrush to me,
where, feasting on the crimson flowers
he’ll stretch his lunch for many hours.
But I will lock this garden meal away
in grateful memory, marvel at the play
of moving light and a brilliant bird on the wing
and that brief moment—shimmering.
We did not see the bird at first.
It was dark on top of the wardrobe
but when the moon escaped the cloud
what seemed mere shadow moved
and the creature stretched its wings
in the light flooding our bedroom.
It was a very large bird with a beak
fierce as a petrel’s. How had it got there?
We did not have time to wonder
for suddenly it took off and wanted out,
flying around the room, wings
wildly flapping, thudding against the ceiling,
hurling itself at the window.
“Quick, quick,” you cried and rushed
to open it more. “I’ll show it how.”
Next thing, you’re clinging to the window sill
with a forty-foot drop below.
Leaden-bodied, I could not throw off
the covers, cried out, and woke.
When I went to the window
it was only open a crack
but a speckled feather
lay on the floor.
The Quadrant Book of Poetry: 2001 - 2010
edited by Les Murray