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The Spike [or Victoria University College Review 1961]

The Stack-Room

page 93

The Stack-Room

Finally the blackbird's beak has broken through,
has pecked away the yellowed weatherboard
beneath the eaves, and now he flies between
the ranks of filing cabinets, the tiers of shelves,
between those ageing papers and a window shored
with struts of dust against the outside blue.

Their structure cut, the buttresses reform
whilst he is causing storms of dust elsewhere,
prising away at archives long forgotten,
bringing to birth events that had been buried.
This room was locked by people with a flair
for smooth administration, bent to set a norm

of sheer consistency throughout the enterprise.
The files were piled with inconsistent claims
by angry clients, plans that aimed too amply,
letters left unanswered, interim reports
too near the truth for comfort; hence such pains
to store it safely all away; hence the cries

of 'Too much paperwork!' and Simplify
the premises and process of decision!'
Appropriate directives were prepared
consigning all the files to fire but then
the carrier forgot to call. Revision
never brought the matter up but let it lie.

And now the blackbird makes his ancient nest
from scraps of foolscap yellowed by the light
and crisply curled by tongs of heat and time.
Dartingly he disappears into that room
singing freely though confined in his flight,
making the dust dance gold, dance wild at his behest.

Gordon Challis