By Ian C Smith

Just down the end of this day’s street he removes his glasses, marks the page, memory’s scented

embrace luring him once more. Escaping marital argument, his hair already greying, they meet in

places he thinks of as nowhere. Their tryst could be in a dark clearing where a mopoke hoots, or

near that old railway line resembling stitched grass, the last train’s whistle gone, gone. A ritual of

suspense. Agonising hours of expectation. Two cars shaken from the moon. She always arrives

after him, leaves first. He drives away from nowhere too fast, egress blinded, mind swarming, their

die cast.

In nowhere’s seclusion resting in his mind futility ruled, seats cranked back up, parting’s wrench

that-idyll-become-wasteland’s epilogue. He might as well have counted the rain, sighing like a child

after crying. On long walks now, coming across havens of chlorophyll, odour of moist earth, in

solitude’s grip escaping this crowded world, he stands in the thrum of stillness recalling a dragonfly

hovering over a pool one perfect afternoon. Old pangs of narcissism, of loss, stir his heart, the taste

of a saline kiss, bruised lips, ragged breath, wretched bliss.

He never woke to a morning with her, keeps her letters, and where happy people milled thought he

saw her, but it was always someone else. Striving for stoicism, mindful of Victor Hugo’s ‘the heaviest

burden is to exist without living’, and of their forbidden fruit’s victims doing time in their memory’s

cells, his fall from grace seemed a black river that flows forever. Much of this forever now used, he

utilises text, reaches for the eight perfect lines bookmarked: He Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven,

Yeats 120 years ago expressing his young heart, and another lurking love, art.

Ian C Smith’s work has been published in Amsterdam Quarterly, Antipodes, cordite, The Dalhousie Review, Poetry Salzburg Review, The Stony Thursday Book, & Two-Thirds North. His seventh book is wonder sadness madness joy, Ginninderra (Port Adelaide). He writes in the Gippsland Lakes area of Victoria, and on Flinders Island.