Virginia Were


Nothing will distract him; a jigsaw, the baiting of hooks,
scrabble. The word 'tapioca' doesn't earn him a triple score.
It falls one short of the red square.

From moment to moment he's not sure whether he wants
to be here with her and her family; her cousins and uncles
on the other boat. The melancholy music enfolds him,
nostalgia for the narrow house in the narrow street in the place
they used to live. The Sicilian woman across the road
screaming into the telephone, her voice barely human.

At night the Sicilians' terrace shone in the fluorescent lights
from Moore Park. So bright it was like daytime. Grecian urns
and garlands rendered on the tall narrow facade 40 feet
from their own. He misses the sudden tropical storms.
Even the humidity gathers splendour with the passage of time.

He wanted to move somewhere where there was more
space, to escape that heartless, blue, unchanging sky.
The harsh mahogany cries of sulphur-crested cockatoos.
He has exchanged the brick city for the timber town,
the black and silver sky and constant swathes of rain.

His face turned resolute and suffering to the weather, he hopes
he won't regret this. A different kind of beauty, an island.

© Virginia Were 1996