Poems by Diane Fahey
Light enters the sepia room.
Too late to clutch back sleep, blot out
a flight over three continents in one day,
four touchdowns; my ankles still swollen.
Here, a real summer after that spell of heat
abroad: a torched autumn before the snowlight.
At midnight, I’d thrown bags on the gravel
as you walked out – your nightdress and pale hair
framed by the lit house – to put your cheek on mine,
your arms around me as in my life’s first hours;
but now, the embrace of friends versed in
give and take. Dawn birds are outsinging
a Bach cantata on the radio;
the room, a crystal steeped in honey.
In my last days here, months after
you’d gone, there was an hour when,
sitting in your green armchair,
I felt myself so connected to that room,
my lungs to its air; my feet, heavy on the floor,
sensed the earth beneath, the tree roots, entangled,
held inside that close dark.
Every cell of my body had its story
of loss, of impacted fatigue, of desperation
as to how I might claim a future.
Every cell of my body felt the pull
that would have kept me here to walk through
these dim rooms, tend your garden.
And I got up, went to the window,
looked out through the mirrored room.
Light and Water
Out watering the garden, the summer sun
still low, I watch the dusk inside a laurel
fill with spray – a glittering surge
speared by leaf shadows:
so intimate a transformation…
and here, reaching towards each plant,
the soft channels of sunlight shot through with
a billowing swirl I can change at will –
a rainstorm in miniature.
At noon, fishing boats on the ruffled bay –
their wakes now smooth, sky-bearing paths
that lead the gaze towards the mountains.
Under a cupola of gold glass
swallows write their silent, sacred music;
so much light and water known by those bright eyes.
The first day, peerless; from ingenuous blue
no hint. But soon enough, the long rains
will arrive, wear out their welcome,
and bouts of hail thud on this iron roof
while gusts, whistling through cracks,
invade each nook, an icy presence:
the soul’s gaze contracts, strength leaks from the marrow;
you become a thief of hope.
Then, the touchstones of garden and river,
silence and birdsong, new words on a raw page
must work their holding power – while this day
dreams its return in windfalls of light,
a spring sky travelled by swans and ibis,
winged seeds, the odd threadbare cloud.
Diane Fahey’s twelfth book of poetry, A House by the River, centres on her care of her mother in the last six years of her life. It will be published by Puncher & Wattmann in March 2016. The details of her Melbourne launch will appear on her website <dianefaheypoet.com>