Peter Boyle – Inscriptions

Boyle LE P&W 6 Nov-Dec 2023

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14th Anniversary Edition, Live Encounters Poetry & Writing Volume Six Nov-Dec 2023.

Inscriptions 1, poem by Peter Boyle.

Inscriptions 1

I lifted my head above the limits of the world.
So little I was.
Overnight I had become grass.

People stroll by in black robes —
the procession of bread and stone.

Up to my neck in sweet mud
I watch a future planet unfold.


Gently, quietly
the ocean was slipping

while the river moved
always higher up
carrying me calmly with it —

soon we would cross
the cloud-line.

Ode to Time and Time’s Errata — poem 23 *

Solominka: a straw,
little daughter of wise Solomon
so fragile your gaze

the wind scatters it
all down the rough dirt road
that drops into the sea.

Outspiralling flowers the wind
lifts lightly off the cherry tree —
destined for what impossible gathering
beyond this icy night’s
zigzagging rain?

Little Solominka,
how far the rough wind travels,
so much sky your eyes
must learn to carry.

And the birds of all seasons
build their nests with this straw.

* ‘Solominka’ is Russian for ‘straw’

My birthdays in reverse

I would like to sit with you again
as petals from my mother’s star-flecked vase
drift and spin against the window.
I’d dreamt you’d returned
to light a row of candles
for my first birthday among the dragon fish
and knife-shaped reeds of the river
that carries night under the earth.

In the dream I am almost touching
your back, can almost taste
the white shimmer of sadness rippling there
like a vast lake that’s forgotten
water’s too fragile weight.

Part by part my body falls away —
a finger here, a tooth, an arm,
one side of my face.
The birds of make believe shatter
at one glance from your eyes
the way a skull will bleed
suddenly, all at once,
into the mirror before you.

It’s possible a halo of fire
awaits us both in the city of stone
but nothing’s guaranteed.

© Peter Boyle

Peter Boyle is a poet and translator of poetry living and working near the Georges River on Dharug land. He has ten books of poetry published and eight books as a translator of poetry. His most recent collection is Ideas of Travel from Vagabond Press. A new collection of poems, entitled Companions, Ancestors, Inscriptions, is due out next year from Vagabond Press.

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