These are the things you walk away from,
a chalked word on the pavement,
lost somewhere over the pacific
in my flight from new world,
to new world.
I could be further from the tropics,
but it would be hard to imagine,
and the cheap enchantment
of Circular Quay calls strongest
when winter sets siege around this northern town.
When the first snow is long past,
the white mounds turned grit grey-black
from passing cars and acid skies,
it's hard not to wish for ruby slippers,
to find myself back
by the great silver arch of harbour bridge,
the smell a mix of mango sweet
stickiness, vinegar rising
from paper thurible of fish and chips
sweat, sea, frangipani,
bouquet lurid as the sun dazzle on the water,
the weird grin of Luna Park.
Even standing by the snowed-in window
I am not so blind
I have not loved anything that no-one loved before.
She tucks a hibiscus bloom behind her ear
seduces us with no more than a lazy wink.
Flight in my heart
with the white wings sweeping
from the blue
let's not pretend she was ever mine
I was only passing
and in her gypsy way
she stole something from me.
But like a sailor with a love in every port,
I am unfaithful
I have given over my affections.
When we were children
the flickering light of the screen
taught us to desire America
as though it were the fairy castle
at once unreal and marvellous.
Then, to stand on the Common,
commonplace a hotdog in one hand,
knowing this city
not as that promised land
the two-dimensioned world
of establishing shots
but the scent of hot asphalt
and traffic lights strung out on wires
the organic abundance of flags
yet clicking somewhere inside me
the combination on a lock
the tumblers falling into place
a gift of extra sight
that the world is ever more
beautiful and complicated, ineffable
and I am a stranger walking in it.
Exile to this home
has both grounded me
and given me those white dream wings.