Sunday, September 19, 2010

Saturday afternoon under the clocks

There is always a promise to meet under the clocks, a place where the order and direction reminds us of our eternal obligation to the world. The hands pointing out routes not yet taken - an invitation to face the world, a reminder of the place we have with those who are the same.

I'm supposed to find you under the clocks. Instead I meet myself, and greet this ghost with a smile.

I see that the ordered measure of time has lost all meaning. Many sit with me under these clocks, but we are not together. We are not one in humanity, we are alone amongst ourselves. The ticking clocks above us taunt the city with a promise of constancy. The only constant force is the innate disappointment each of us feels with the world.

Is it my job to fix this?

What do you think?

I think it's your job, not mine.

The ghost turns and shows me a country that is not a land of isolation, but a people who stand in a crowded place and find themselves drowning from the inside. The sandbags have been stacked and the flood will not be allowed out.

There, under the clocks, more water creeps up the steps and takes the people prisoner. Some have water up to their necks, and patiently wait to drown. Others are wading towards me, reaching out, asking for help.

I do what I think is right. I turn my head away from them and close my eyes.

The ghost points to me. I persecute myself. I wait at the clocks and stare at my feet, imprisoned by my freedom to ignore the plight of others.

What does sadness, fear, exile look like – would you reach out to someone in need?

I am free from the expectations of society, but imprisoned by my own.

The ghost pushes me into the deep.

We listen, the ghost and I. Some talk of a great love for this sunburnt country and speak of the land and the rain that teases those who need it.

The ghost talks of the drought that has hardened its people - when we turn to others for help we find a dry and barren kinship that has become scratched and gravelled over time.

Amongst the people there is a flood. But nothing can break the drought. The soil is too battle weary to allow amends. Their fears are unabating; discontented abuse reigns over the people.

The ghost points to those whose blinkered eyes cannot focus on the shelter they had from the storm, and to those who continue to question whose responsibility it will be to stop the drought.

There is plenty of water, there should be no drought.

These people sit, justifying their choices with lists of rules and regulations. It is an interesting freedom; one that allows people to wallow in sadness and forgets to remind others that they can see the peril others face.

I realise that my parched throat is choking on the isolation that has gathered in the air.

Under the clocks - I stood, waiting for you.

Instead, I find myself, and didn't know what I was doing there.


  1. I'm always left with more questions than answers after reading one of your pieces :) The water, the ghost, floods, drought...who are you speaking to? Who do the people represent?
    I like the use of iconic Flinders St, and the timeless clock, ticking away.

  2. I love the ambiguity, just wish I was better at analysing poems :) Ultimately, your line "there is plenty of water, there should be no drought" sums it up beautifully - that if we cannot wait for 'others' to step in, we must act. I love that positive affirmation, that we each have the power to save a life.

  3. sorry, I meant to type 'that we cannot wait..."

  4. I feel a bit better about this piece now. I was a bit worried that it was too cryptic, but you've got the gist of it, so I am happy. Thanks for the feedback.