Kristian Radford – Star Song

Radford LE P&W February 2024

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Live Encounters Poetry & Writing February 2024.

Star Song, poems by Kristian Radford.

Star Song

I keep searching for words I have no right to—
the afternoon’s warm secrets on my neck,
the static of stars singing early in the evening,
the histories tattooed on night’s blue ankles

there’s a song playing at a frequency that can only be felt
it simmers at the base of my throat
a crucible of languages I can’t speak
syllables searching for another mouth

the song asks me where it came from and why I can’t sing it
I ask it the same and it runs away
footsteps pounding like drums in a film score
building to the moment the lovers meet the end of the script

Ode to the Rice Cooker

in this poem I will explain
how the air in this kitchen
has enough empty space
to hide an entire family tree
and enough moisture
to keep it alive

first, I will teach you to be
impervious, the way strength collects
in the smooth walls of Pyrex containers
I will teach you to keep
your heaviness on the outside
and let time slide around you
like a golf ball, clean and anonymous

then, I will demonstrate how to be
precise, to use the instructions
branded onto your body
I will show you the names for
the shapes in this part of the world
and the right language
to say them in

finally, we will practise the
virtue of simplicity
because if you can be trusted
to sing one note
and never lose the pitch
then there will always be a seat for you
at somebody’s table

now watch the steam flying like whale-breath
into the shadows of the ceiling
it smells like all of us together
and it always will
even after these faces, these voices
and this house are all gone
dissolving like clouds
in the shape of you

© Kristian Radford

Kristian Radford lives in Melbourne, Australia. His poetry has previously appeared in various journals and anthologies including Cordite Poetry Review, Rabbit, Westerly, Australian Poetry Anthology and Best of Australian Poems. He works as a secondary school teacher.

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