Five Postcards by Les Murray

June 26, 1998

Having run herself up out of

plush, the white-cheeked wallaby

sits between her haunches

like an old-country tailor behind

her outstretched last yard, her tail,

and hems it with black fingers.


Cosmic apples by Cezanne:

their colours, streaming, hit

wavelengths of crimson and green

in the yellowy particle-wind.

Slant, parallel and pouring,

every object's a choke-point of speeds.


The kitchens of this 18th-century

Oxford college are ten metres high

by the squinch-eyed cooks basting

tan birds spiked in hundreds all over

the iron griddle before hellfire.

Below high lozengy church windows

others flour, fill, pluck. And this too

was the present once, that absolute of fools.


1828. Timber slums of the future

top a ship of the line, which receives

more who might have stormed St James's.

Cheery washing lines signal they're bound

for the world's end, to seize there

the lands of unclothed aristos

rich in myth and formal grammar


A mirrory tar-top road across

a wide plain. Drizzling sky.

A bike is parked at a large book

turned down tent-fashion on the verge.

One emerging says I read such crazy

things in this book. "Every bird

has stone false teeth, and enters

the world in its coffin." That's in there.

Les Murray

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