Alex Skovron was born in Poland, lived briefly in Israel, and came to Australia aged nine. He is the author of five poetry collections, most recently Autographs (prose-poems, 2008), as well as a prose novella, The Poet (2005). Awards for his poetry include the Wesley Michel Wright Prize, the John Shaw Neilson Award, the Australian Book Review Poetry Prize, and for his first book, The Rearrangement (1988), the Anne Elder and Mary Gilmore awards. His novella was joint winner of the FAW Christina Stead Award for fiction. He lives in Melbourne and works as a freelance editor.
We chased each other, childish, hilarious,
Round and around the lit kitchen table
That multiplied for cardgames, meals, painting
Of eggs at Easter, shelling of beans.
As I swerved laps of tablecloth – the mirth
Of the occasion as much a mystery
As a measure of the reason for itself –
A futileness, strange but convivial,
Passed like a limpid mist across the memory
Of something I had yet no right to know.
As if you think you could catch me, is one way
The mist translates itself. As if it matters …
It was a moment of pure insight, distilling
A recognition sharper than wisdom –
Bright as a giggle, its closing ellipsis
Muffled in the frenzy of our running.
The point, it laughed, and I understood:
Whether or not they caught me round that table
Was not the point. What mattered
Was the clamour of their wanting, the complicity
Of wood, the night at the window, the clock
And the crockery trembling above us,
The playcards scattered, our conspiracy
Of laughter – and most precious of all,
That shiver of a question, fleeting, permanent,
As if it could ever let go of me …
A man lies awake gazing
at the curtain into the past
that hangs in front of his eyes.
He can discern shifting images
beyond the delicate gauze
and the ache in his diaphragm
Is pleasure and regret,
the silent curlicues of desire
trapped in the chamber’s gloom.
The future is hurting
but he knows nothing about the future,
he traces the trembled outlines
Of each dancing apparition
(for each dancing apparition is
himself), and struggles for focus.
He strains to re-enter
the cathedral of the past, it is prayer
(the past is prayer)
And he could worship there
if only the gauze would clear
and he touch the flesh
Of history. Because he needs
to know again, know
again, he needs to touch
The outlines, pry them apart,
push his entire being
into every last one of them
And maybe then, maybe
then he would know
why the curtain is forever
Stirring in the breeze
of his desires, why the gauze
shimmers like reprimand,
And why each curlicue
of the music that breathes him
is singing the irony of time.