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JOHN HALE

Cataract of Memory


Mnemonic I - Getting of Memory

Read over your Greek book in verse, you say.
I say, Richard of York gained battles in vain.
Is that, then, what separates us,
anchoring our rainbows with the mind's reflection,
yours contemplative,
mine hard-edged,
each spectrum caught in memory's arc
like an unfulfilled promise?

One Atlantic night south of the doldrums
I saw a rainbow cast in silver
across a vast Endymion of sleeping water.
We sailed towards it knowing
it would recede like a mirage of desire,
like Selene herself.
But we sailed - to find ourselves within.

Endymion's fifty daughters, fathered on the Moon,
are potsherds of memory
fractured and glistening on the verge of time.
The Greek book gathers dust,
Richard's vainglory stilled,
and Mnemon dead by Achilles' sword
for failing to remind him of Thetis' warning.

Give me a pictograph of memory -
tree in leaf, steady eye, receptive heart -
and my rainbow will blazon
like the sun itself.


Mnemonic II - Future Memory

Flat on my back on the bed
an old Qantas eyemask silencing the winter sunlight
hands shoved into the front-cut pockets
of the jeans you chose
I think of you
thirty six thousand feet up there
winging your hard won way
to the hectic city, the golden beach.
While you're away
I'll find some way to wile away the time
scribbling maybe
walking the dog
sipping the odd Jack Daniels
for old Jack's sake.
And you'll come back -
surely?


Mnemonic III - Mosaic of Memory

I see you on the gnarled jetty in early mist
in stillness facing south
where sea and sky are one.

I see you cross-legged before the logfire
gracile fingers coaxing liquid music
your voice teasing the melody.

I see you arched above me
curve of throat, tumult of gypsy mane afire
your lips apart.

I see you glisten naked in a lunar night
breasting a shimmering path
through the moon-splintered ocean.

I see you cycling ahead, fine muscled, strong
weaving the sun-flecked track of sand towards a timeless village
where women plait long tongues of leaves.

I see you suckling your boy child
his arm waving gently
in calm wonder.

I see you in soft focus through the cataract of memory
your hair a blaze of sunset sharded in the moving river
flowing outward, always outward.