Wednesday, November 05, 2014

Requiem

 

Perhaps those archetypes of immortality,
the beautiful doomed,
have a story to tell after all:

That there is only now.
No golden afternoon just gone.
No promise of a silver morning.
That they are not forever young,
suspended in telegenic animation,
but forever dead instead.
That, unless phrenology has moved on
from the so-called science of the mind
to yet another mismeasure of mankind,
the dead are beyond our vanities.

And that, if anything matters,
if anything does in the long, slow fuck of life—
a car crash in time lapse
where our family sedan slews off the shoulder of the highway,
  over and down,
         down and over
the embankment,
gathering turds of sod in its seams
as it gathers momentum towards a barbed-wire fence
fencing in a gouged creek and orchards burned grey
by salt—

If there is anything to be learned
from these revolutions,
these guttural exclamations,
as our bodies penetrate other bodies
—are perforated themselves—
as the concussion of our manmade capsules
colliding against the blunt trauma of earth continues
for a time less than we imagined,
for longer than we thought possible;

If there is anything to be learned, it is this.
What matters most is that
we love this life we are leaving
and are unafraid of the next.


Read at Federation Square as a part of the Gough Whitlam commemoration on November 5, 2014. 
First published in Magisterium, my second collection of poetry.

1 comment:

Tom Gutteridge said...

Hi Joel, I was at the memorial for Michael Gurr last night where you read this poem. It had a profound effect on me - both as a really powerful poem in its own right, and as a remarkably and painfully apt requiem for Michael. Thank you.