Bronwyn Carter

on reading The Heart is a Lonely Hunter

In the town there were two silences
and they were always together.

Sharp wet winds buoyed the noumenal world; floating
they learnt to enter language centres
in old men; balancing
they rolled hemispheres on oak floors:
a mild, biddable ravelment

which fascinated the children. Curiouser and curiouser,
there is nothing so conservative as a little girl
and not knowing pleasure, she wanted answers.

What is wisdom in life?
A mute white rabbit always present
averring the hours’ own intelligence.

What is the shadow in people’s faces?
A silence like the hour before dawn
which sunlight never raises.

In the town there lived twins
and they were never together
being subjected to the phenomenal world.
Of colour

rinsed banner and the worsted
dyed rainbow; hope dies over the edge,
white dark hope; fat dripping sausage
is wrung and the water sump runs oily

black and white.

But they were children and they
had every right to complain.

You have the boiling rivers in you.
I hear the whir: I see your arc turning purple

being all it’s expected to be
like coming upon a shadowed billiard table,
globes glinting, a whole revolution surrendered,

though I missed the black-tempered moon
making demands which ran to a clean act,
this life; heard and stirred violent winds
every time I returned,
an orchestra raging at my feet:
lonesomeness the whip master.

And so little girl she tells us this
as the light comes up fast
revealing vapid blinding mists.