William Byrne is a South Australian poet in his twenties. He has always lived in rural and coastal townships, excluding an urban interlude for university study for degrees in architecture and design.
Water dries so fast
on my fore and index fingers
once I leave the chiesa,
that foreign place of incensed marble.
as soon as I see the sun
and basking in it, the smooth shoulders
of the lane’s cobblestones. I trip
in my penance, later, while seated
in the brassed café
as my lips part for vermouth.
Again I see Rome’s dark shoulders
then her leather heels and passing souls,
then half smoked cicca,
their pale ghosts hanging in the streets,
then smooth, tanned Roman fingers.
Chiesa water dries so fast on my fingers.
The vermouth is also dry.
In my old car, tyres wet, we spoke
black over green like a Rothko painting,
the young crops startled in our headlamps,
their fronds thrashing in the yellow glow.
You too were startled when I turned the headlamps off,
even though we had pulled up aside the field.
The lamps were deadened, yet the radio hailed
in a distant AM. Ice crystals formed on the window,
shading thinly the edge of the screen.
Beyond the glass, grey clouds brushed past the moon
rising on the curved horizon beyond
wheat past further than sight from two sets of eyes could see.
Afterwards, we drove to a town
at the edge of the wheat, leaving the earth
on the side of the road where we parked
a dry-ish print framed in rain craters
and shallow puddles bleeding into its soft sides.
We laughed so hard that night as we spoke and tried to see.