Lesley Lebkowicz: Some other poems



Outside the women's room avenues unfurl
and the city floats away.
In the ward they are each other 's world.
One woman announces, over and over,
The doctor says my bones are chalk.
She speaks with awe that such
a thing should choose her: a savage miracle.
Inside her, bone sheared off from itself like
limestone in a private landslide - and she fell.
Visitors arrive with fruit and DVDs.
Like the doctors they're upright.
They talk and are loved but it's each other
the women watch: only they know
how bones collapse like bamboo scaffolding
in some country far away.

('Inside' won the ACT Poetry Prize in 2013.)

Love: a Novel

It's offered to everyone in the early morning queue
for tickets to the exhibition: a postcard of a man
holding a book called Love, a novel.
Most of us are on our way to work, and wearing suits.
The mist is rising from the lake and someone's selling
coffee and croissants. The man ahead of me is here
for the third time. It's wonderful, he says, there are things
from everywhere and every time: Nebuchadnessar's
cuneiform accounts, the Egyptian Book of the Dead,
manuscripts by Shelley, Darwin, Freud, a letter from Keats
to Fanny, full of desire, and pleading: 'do not write
unless you can do it with a crystal conscience
He's queueing for friends who arrive tomorrow and takes
two of the postcards. For them, he says. A souvenir.
He minds my place while I get coffee.
The man in the postcard is old, his face softened;
a zig-zag of lines charts the concavity where his chin
meets the flesh below his mouth. We fall in with time.
He holds the book to his chest, looking sadly to his right
over and over again along our line. Behind me, a couple
work out how much longer they can wait, and then
decamp, saying good-bye to everyone. A busker plays
a violin - not well - but we throw coins into his upturned hat.
The man with the book called Love wears such a hat
and two waistcoats, the upper one of cloth, from an old suit,
with underneath, a hand knit one in a fancy stitch.
He is sitting on a bench in the Tasmanian Public Library
sometime in the sixties.