David Adès – Offering

Ades LE P&W January 2024

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Live Encounters Poetry & Writing, January 2024

Offering, poems by David Adès.


Why do I think of Van Gogh’s sunflowers?

The clasp of flowers in hands
seems an act of supplication.

I can’t give you my own warmth,
but here, take these.

Am I asking for forgiveness or simply your regard?

Sometimes, there are no other offerings
to be made, no words to be spoken.

See me, I say without words,
as I stand before you, flowers in hand,

please see me.


I’m sorry.

If I hold on to you so tightly
it is because I am lost.

I love your ease, how you give yourself
so willingly, how unafraid you are

of the world’s bright plumage,

how it twirls you with dance
and song and light.

Everything hidden scares me.
I can’t get past surfaces

to the depths beneath,

interpret everything so literally
it is like wearing blinkers.

You embrace the unknown like a lover.

I am wary of pitfalls, shuffle forwards
not sure where to place my feet.

Often, I stand on the spot,
hesitating to move at all.

How do you put up with that?

It’s a character flaw, I know.
I’m stuck in my box of

constraints and I’m no Houdini.
I tell myself I must let go,

release you from the shackle
of me, make my own way,

colour-blind, trembling, and I will,
I promise, just not yet.


There comes a time

old folk might tell you,
wearing the truth of the years
in the slope of their shoulders,

when what other people think doesn’t matter anymore,

when inhibitions fall like autumnal leaves,
when the burdens of appearance and expectation
lift, so many hot air balloons rising into the sky.

Then, you can begin the work

of prising off the mask you’ve worn
all these years, so familiar you forget
sometimes you are wearing it,

peel off a skin you no longer need.

It might be harder to do than you think,
comfortable in place and unyielding,
adhering like a sense of self, identity.

And when you do, you might find

another mask beneath it,
a second skin, older, forgotten,
that was once bulwark, shield.

Peel that one off and there may be another.

That is your work for these twilight years,
to find again your lost face,
the one that entered the world,

and with that face to meet what awaits.

© David Adès

David Adès is the author of Mapping the World, Afloat in Light and the chapbook Only the Questions Are Eternal. He won the Wirra Wirra Vineyards Short Story Prize 2005 and the University of Canberra Vice-Chancellor’s International Poetry Prize 2014. Mapping the World was commended for the FAW Anne Elder Award 2008. David’s poems have been read on the Australian radio poetry program Poetica and have also featured on the U.S. radio poetry program Prosody. His poetry has twice been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and twice been shortlisted for the Newcastle Poetry Prize. His poems have been Highly Commended in the Bruce Dawe National Poetry Prize, a finalist in the Dora and Alexander Raynes Poetry Prize (U.S.) and commended for the Reuben Rose International Poetry Prize (Israel). David is the host of the monthly poetry podcast series “Poets’ Corner” which can be found at https://www.youtube.com/playlistlist=PLb8bHCZBRMBjlWlPDeaSanZ3qAZcuVW7N.

He lives in Sydney with his wife and three children.

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