Martin Edmond



The insomniac moon at 4.04 am hangs rust red in the west. Torn clouds circle an earth that is sliding, right now, in front of the rising sun. My lids are rolled in grains of sand, my head is scoured by thoughts I do not wish to have, my body jumps and twitches under the interrogation of the hours: why offer love where no love is? There were sunspots blazing in your hair. Your eyes were jet. Something immemorial on the planes of your face. Suffering and joy, poised equally before the possibilities of the world. Impossibilities. I never noticed before the slight out-thrust of the lower lip of that unkissable mouth. When I write world it should perhaps be eternity. When I write eternity it should be nothing. Or everything. Flares burn out thousands of kilometres into space and here on earth we contort, we genuflect, we dance, we bend in sorrow before strange gods. The meaning of the planets is in their conjunctions so far beyond our comprehension as to be meaningless. This is how astrologers talk of love. It is a sound of mourning cast upon the air, the silence in which a flame consumes the night. It is the equipoise of those celestial bodies passing each other, the unthought consummation that may consume a soul. While the body endures, out on the balcony at 4.07 am, watching the shadow of the earth prevent the sun's light, for a moment, forever, illumining the moon.

Transit of Venus

Venus slips behind the steeple, looking silvery as a lost love. Bigger than yesterday. A downward trajectory. It takes minutes. I understand that I don't understand the universe. Last year it was Saturn, yellowy and insouciant, ringed with desire. The year before that, Jupiter, reddish, baleful, gargantuan, whirling fate into strange corridors of time. How do their several bodies take up the same space of sky? Perhaps it isn't the universe I don't understand, perhaps it’s just the solar system. Or my mind. Or are they the same thing? Why do signs seem sometimes so hopeful then at others deliver a doom I cannot help but bend my neck to receive? Being a protestant means your conscience will never be assuaged, never quieted, never quiet; yet you'll always find a way, this side of the grave, to say that what you did wasn't really wrong, only misunderstood. I have no use for a god who misunderstands, do you? Does anyone? Have a use for god. Point. Shriek. Query ... Venus has gone, she's slipped away behind the spire, leaving a ghost of silvery longing. I'll turn my head, I'll bare my neck some other time. All the hairs standing up there. As if a beast were near. The nightsweet swirls in the night, the planet transits. Somewhere between my age and death, she said, and laughed. I won't see her again.

Forest of Signs

Transom is one word, truss another, span a third. As if building a bridge across an abyss that has one side only, the shivery bank I start from. The bridge is on gaseous Jupiter, consecrated by a poet: Dead men naked they shall be one, he wrote. With the man in the wind and the west moon. The other side is an unknown, it is not yet within reach, I cannot even imagine what is there, nor how to construct a foundation that will support the throws I dream towards it. I saw my dead father last night, my younger son sickening in his arms: I wanted to reach out and take one from the other, the other from the one. And yet both perhaps were one. Or other. I am the same age now that my father was when his third daughter died. The great red spot is a swirl in the heart, it revolves on an eight hour period, it bleeds constantly, it has been going on since the seventeenth century; the small red spot is hope, it appeared late in the last millennium, it is quick and vicious, it may be salvation. From what? From having to choose between the love that kills and killing yourself. Not as hard as it sounds. I am lost in a forest of signs and I wander. The forest is made of names, I survive there by telling. The first tell: When their bones are picked clean and the clean bones gone / They shall have stars at elbow and foot. Afterwards, I see the path their dying light made, I breath in the air of their longing, and I sing.

Martin Edmond's latest book, Waimarino Country, has just been published by Auckland University Press.

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