Tim Upperton

The trouble with poetry

In the poem which is like a house the poet is looking
out a window. This is to say, he is looking into his own
furnished, sensitive mind. Sometimes he doesn’t see anything
out the window at all, it’s so reflective, and that’s one kind of poem.
Sometimes he sees something you wouldn’t notice but –
because he’s sensitive – he gets worked up about it. Not too much.
A thrush on the lawn, for example, yes, a lyric thrush pecking
at the soil, its bright, hard eye, a light rain falling,
and it reminds the poet somehow of his friend’s last days
at the hospital, and what he said to his friend, or didn’t say,
and meanwhile his hands are doing nothing in particular
and so he’s now peeling fruit, maybe a pear, the flesh gleaming
wetly under the knife. So there’s the pear, the speckled rind
spooling naturally into a self-deprecating, slightly goofy anecdote
to offset the gloominess about his friend. He’s sensitive, not morbid.
His glass of chilled sauvignon blanc – there it is, in his hand –
catches the yellowy light. And he’s a poet, not a novelist,
so after a page he’s winding it all up, the friend, the pear,
his wine the colour almost of grass, the rain, and evening coming on,
finishing, of course, with the thrush on the lawn, its head cocked,
bent to the ground, acutely listening to the unseen thing tunnelling there.

Author’s Note


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