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The International Terminal -- Les Murray

Guest poem sent in by Steve Forsythe
(Poem #1958) The International Terminal
 Some comb oil, some blow air,
 some shave trenchlines in their hair
 but the common joint thump, the heart's spondee
 kicks off in its rose-lit inner sea
 like an echo, at first, of the one above
 it on the dodgy ladder of love --
 and my mate who's driving says I never
 found one yet worth staying with forever.
 In this our poems do not align.
 Surely most are if you are, answers mine,
 and I am living proof of it,
 I gloom, missing you from the cornering outset --
 And hearts beat mostly as if they weren't there,
 Rocking horse to rocking chair,
 most audible dubbed on the tracks of movies
 or as we approach where our special groove is
 or our special fear. The autumn-vast
 parking-lot-bitumen overcast
 now switches on pumpkin-flower lights
 all over dark green garden sites
 and a wall of car-bodies, stacked by blokes,
 obscures suburban signs and smokes.
 Like coughs, cries, all such unlearned effects
 the heartbeat has no dialects
 but what this or anything may mean
 depends on what poem we're living in.
 Now a jet engine, huge child of a gun,
 shudders with haze and begins to run.
 Over Mount Fuji and the North Pole
 I'm bound for Europe in a reading role
 and a poem long ago that was coming for me
 had Fuji-san as its axle-tree.
 Cities shower and rattle over the gates
 as I enter that limbo between states
 but I think of the heart swarmed around by poems
 like an egg besieged by chromosomes
 and how out of that our world is bred
 through the back of a mirror, with clouds in its head
 --and airborne, with a bang, this five-hundred-seat
 theatre folds up its ponderous feet.
-- Les Murray
Here is another poem on a different aspect of flight - it is almost the
opposite of Walcott's poem [Poem #1957]: anticipation vs. completion, the
anxiety of departure vs. the expansive consciouness of Walcott's being in
flight, almost formal vs. free-flowing verse. It captures well all the
emotions evoked by the beginning of a long journey. The depiction of the
actual takeoff ("Now a jet engine...") brilliantly evokes the final physical
and mental rush.

Steve Forsythe



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