Catherine Cole

Photo on 2013-05-13 at 18_42 _2Professor Catherine Cole is Professor of Creative Writing at the University of  Wollongong. She has published novels and two non-fiction books. She is the editor of the anthology, The Perfume River: Writing from Vietnam and co-editor with McNeil and Karaminas of Fashion in Fiction: Text and Clothing in Literature, Film and Television, (Berg UK and USA, May 2009). She also has published poetry, short stories, essays and reviews.




Looking for Serge Gainsbourg

           on one of the graves
                    you kiss
                                the day-moon
(fading above bare branches).
Lover don’t catch a cold.
Don’t scandalise the tourists.
Don’t upset the cemetry attendants,
the grieving relatives.
This hunt
for Serge
is no laughing matter
I laugh
at the moon
           at your lips
           at the cemetry’s cats
           making a wide 
                        arc around
          a crazy man
in a bright red scarf
a woman in stitches.

        you say
        ‘Allez trouvez l’homme.’
        So I go
                    with my map
                                 my gloved hands
                                              dusted with snow
Je t’aime

‘Serge?’ I ask an old man
                             ‘Où et Serge?’
‘Tout près.’   
             He is close
(a little stream of water, a bare shrub, surely not lilac)
‘Y’a pas de soleil sous la terre,’ the man sings
                             Everyone’s a fan.

And on Serge’s grave I find:
a love letter,
four metro tickets
and scrawled on the back of a café tab,
moi je ne tiens a rien
plus que toi.
manque de toi
je suis la moitié fou
and a
small smooth grey pebble

to take back to you.


A late dark comes down
Cardigan Street
crows call from London planes.
By now you will be chopping at the sink
cat at your ankle,
ABC news
bushfires and floods.

Our friends live in separate cities too
we talk distance
of soldiers sent to war,
migrant workers
Stapleton in the Antartic, five years between letters.
Too tired by the time we call
to describe the crows’ black flash against red walls,

or how the drought has turned
all the grass

When next you come here
I will walk you past these trees
past the crows gnawing at plane tree pods
past the promise of Florence in the south.
I will sing sailor’s songs
Compose letters from the trenches of my heart
and hide them in your luggage
to read when you get home.

And while I wait
I walk past Victoria Street
past walls red radiant with heat.
I look a starling in its cruel eye,
step over the bleached bones of dead flowers.
And on Exhibition Building’s dome
a crow,
my heart in its beak.