Drought by Geoff Lemon.
I think I posted this on my old blog, but it's worth reposting. Geoff Lemon is (in Scrambler's humble opinion) one of the best writers in Australia today: on top of the following poem, make sure you read his on point analysis of the current crop of Channel 9 cricket commentators, who are taking a long, hot shit all over the once proud reputation of Richie Benaud et al.
That night tasted like grapefruit; we were
hallway silhouettes. Some hours earlier, drops
had started pocking Victoria’s state-wide parch
softening the cracked lips of reservoirs.
It was summer’s last convulsion. The heavy energy of heat
curled round us and over, even as the rains came in.
There’d been a crash in the Burnley Tunnel: explosions,
calamity. With power to the whole northern grid failing
we sat in darkness – streetlights doused, houses
thinking themselves over at the edge of vision –
watching four blind lanes of Royal Parade
snakehiss with traffic, water sheeting the roadway,
tyres unable to decide if they were planes or scythes.
Our shoebox veranda made a diorama,
a comfort to those out in the world.
With the familiarity born of shared disaster
passers-by stopped to tell us of chaos in the city:
traffic lights out, cars dismantling each other,
man undone by invention one more time.
How long has it been out up here? they’d ask.
At twelve I said I’d walk home when the rain stopped.
Cars thinned out but never ceased
though at least no more cyclist lights
scrived their laser scrimshaw in our skulls.
Veranda edges circumscribed the sky, the iron lacework
boxed it up like Chinese takeaway.
Beyond the swoop of the Parade was space
and space and space. That dirty couch was a canoe,
the road a roiling mud monsoonal river, mile-wide.
We rode the current, waiting for a break in rain
that never came; let it ride the way things ride
on nights that taste like grapefruit.
Morning was a nudge in the ribs: the clouds’ campaign
from black to ash to oyster-shell.
Water still hissed through our streets
arced from branches…turned orange?
Yes. In the ultimate redundancy
the streetlights came back on.
Kissing you was like rain the night before:
while anyone could see that it was coming
it was hard to predict when the first drop would fall.
But it always falls. With a whole night to lean on
the first kiss came as easily.
And with that rain now in its twelfth hour
and your eyes so close to mine
it was hard to dodge metaphors of droughts breaking.
Inside, the terrace dusk of your room was dark grey felt.
My hands found your hands.
The rain stopped. The earth breathed,
and as we broke the crisp of brand new sheets
it seemed that everything else
had become new.