Lorraine Gibson – Night Watch

Lorraine Gibson LEP&W V3 Dec 2022

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Live Encounters Poetry & Writing Volume Three December 2022.

Night Watch, poems by Lorraine Gibson.

Night Watch

Lying still, skin drummed tight to the beat of night, pores closing down
to conscience and its limitations, she skeins choices out on linen sheets;

one thousand threads of pure quality confusion. She thinks of trickle-down,
role-plays, Society of the Spectacle, her stylish dress with swishing hem

and flowers to match her revolutionary kiss-proof lipstick. Biblical moths
and rust warn of earthly vanity, iron-winged remnants flutter bitter to her

open mouth. She is still worldly, too full of nous, half-way to disappearing.
She intones tomorrow’s normalcy like a psalm: Breakfast, mango, yoghurt,

coffee, mango, yoghurt, coffee. Think of froth, think the fleshly golden fruit
of southern orchards. But it’s no good. The thieves have broken into Eden.

This poem considers questions of being with regard to perennial human
questions such as: Why am I here? What is life about? The Society of the
Spectacle references the French philosopher Guy Debord whose book
of the same name offers theories concerning the increasing commoditisation
of society and the “obvious degradation of being into having …”.
(Debord: 1967. Thesis 17).

On Lighthouse Beach

Shivers of wind blow the marzipan scent of mid-winter’s wattle
up from the south. I inhale this perfumed benediction, this fragile

gift of scent as memory, give thanks for the years when my hands
touched the power of seasons, when our hands touched the power

in each other. My bare feet dimple pools of an ebbing tide, each print
is swallowed in an instant: Reminders of past deeds, past loves, the

times I felt so indispensable, all washed away, all shown for such
impermanence by the unfailing physics of water and sand. Wading

deeper, I begin a list of times when cold can be welcome: Ice-cream
in the sweaty slick of mid-summer; fresh white cotton-sheets with

air-con’ when things are getting steamy! The first chilled white on
Friday night. I think back to feeling the cold smack of a snow-ball

on my cheek when I was ten years old (The thrower was twelve—
and cute)! Hey, this was the 80s! He does it cos’ he likes you not yet

seen for what it is. Ah Yes, context and detail are so important.
A dark mound lies up ahead on the sand; a young brown wallaby

is dead. His eyes hold the milky-glaze of, not long gone. No off-

road (never been off-road) hulks speeding on the beach, no off-leash
dogs, no off-leash humans, no obvious signs of misdemeanor mark

this small unwilling sunbather. Nothing to be done but witness loss.
I make witness and walk on. I clamber up the rickety stairs towards

the lighthouse, stop half-way to rest in a gnarly pocket of jagged
banksia and grey, leathered leaf. The dawn haar has long since

cast-off its misty-morning promise and I lean into sky as blue
as a robin’s egg. A tarnished plaque on a salt-washed bench reads:

In Memory of Ruby Brown 1914 – 2012. How Lucky Are We?

A rising wind ruffles the black bonnets of shearwaters huddling
in shifting patterns; they lift off in feathered flurries, following

the nature of their kind. A small cairn of seashore pebbles sits
on scrubby ground, each small stone rubbed gleam by history’s

spume and tumble of water. Aquamarines, deep jade greens,
speckled ambers, rough knobbles of white-veined quartz, and

smooth, coal-black-ovals for dexterous skimmers. An earlier riser
has left a bright-pink post-it-note beside this shrine to beach refugees.

I kneel and read:
Life—The beauty is in the detail.

© Lorraine Gibson

Lorraine Gibson is a Scottish-Australian writer, painter and poet living in Regional New South Wales. Her poetry is published and upcoming in: Meniscus Literary Journal, Writing in A Woman’s Voice, The Galway Review, Eureka Street, Backstory, Hecate, Live Encounters, Booranga fourW, Poetry for the Planet, Burrow, WordCity, Lothlorien Poetry Journal and Tarot. She is author of the ethnography, ‘We Don’t Do Dots: Art and Culture in Wilcannia, New South Wales’, and holds a PhD in Socio-Cultural Anthropology from Macquarie University, Sydney.

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