Saturday, May 2, 2009

Requiem of the Red Sunset

I intend for this poem to close my book, as I've intended since its original incarnation as Earth on a String way back in 2006. I pretty much lost interest in working on the poem not long after its initial inception, mainly because I thought of the title first and ended up feeling way too limited with what I could write about.

Looking at the creation dates of the two files, I changed the poem from its original title to Requiem of the Red Sunset in April 2007, right around the time I wrote The Sitting Room and Their Nests Were Made of Glass, both of which being about the stresses of the HSC and school in general. So I guess if I had have attempted to write it with a little bit more fervour at that time, the poem probably would have ended up being about finishing school. But since it's now two years on, leaving school being in the past, it just didn't seem appropriate anymore to write about it.

Plus I've already written a million poems about leaving school.

I had high hopes from the beginning that it was going to be a goodbye song. But not necessarily a sad goodbye, but something a lot more bittersweet, which I think I've tapped into quite well in the complete version of this poem.

You'll also noticed the reference to The Wings of Birds in this poem, because it is something of a similar poem, with similar themes and even imagery. I wrote it about leaving Bathurst and coming home to a new beginning of sorts, so I thought it was relevant to involve it someway, somehow.

Only a few parts actually remain from the original Earth on a String draft. Namely:
She was singing
The sweetest carmine lullaby,
Swooning the senses of the brightest birds
To settle on soft Earth.
Down here, I knew they Could hear the
Stilling whispers of an Ancient timekeeper for it
Froze the flutter
Of their gilded wings.

This section makes reference to my sister and her talent as a singer, although this is only looking at things at face value. To go into more depth: I created this section as a metaphor to the endtimes. Not the endtimes of everything, ever, but the end time of a particular thing. A particular stage not only my life, but my sister's, and I guess my family's as a whole (which is what the poem is about).

Except for maybe my brother, none of us are kids anymore. And even Josh isn't that much of a kid. That's the endtime I ended up writing about. All of us maturing, growing into something else, someone else - each of us. Mum and Dad included.

People are ever changing and we are constantly at a pivot point of endings and beginnings. That is what Requiem of the Red Sunset is about. It's about an ending, but also a beginning.

Requiem of the Red Sunset

From the highest high
Of the Riverina
I watched the indigo eucalypts
And ghost gums near my house
Quiver from this new,
Otherworldly wind.
And the shimmer
Was a gleaming curtain draped
Over the darkened forest
My home had become.

Dad called us outside
To marvel at the sky's
Dreamy illuminance:
A shimmer of amber
And azure blue
Blending with the spilled

He was thinking the
Same thing I was:
That this world
Enchanted us even
At an end, as much as
It does at a beginning.

Bruised light drenched
Every wisp of air and
Every pore of skin,
As if we were all part of
The same thing and this
Time it was Mum who was
Thinking the same as me.

That I was
Back forever beneath
The Wings of Birds,
And the home and hearth
We shared was perpetually
Plotted across a lifetime.

And then I fell into
Dream’s hands...
Cassie stood at
The other end of
The veranda , smiling at me.
Inside her,
This new voice was growing
And it coloured her face
Foreign, but as enchanting
As it ever was.

She was singing
The sweetest carmine lullaby,
Swooning the senses of the brightest birds
To settle on soft Earth.
Down here, I knew they
Could hear the
Stilling whispers of an
Ancient timekeeper for it
Froze the flutter
Of their gilded wings.

Theirs' was a silence
To say goodbye, 'suppose
Somewhere else it was
All a symphony
Of joyful recognition:
A nod to the swifts in
Another world that had all
Waited for me to take flight.

But Cassie was the furthest
Place from silent: her words
Danced within my mind to
Become a plume of her
Infinite shades.

Josh was exuberant:
A searing sun
Bouncing around our lawn.
He couldn't contain
His fire and never
Expected silence -
He’s held it captive for years.
He is me in one thousand ways, but
I am him in a million.

His was a new voice burgeoning.

It is all a circle where I live:
The Red Sunset is the key
To the starlit Riverina.
This plain is the only gate to
The beautiful pink sunrise of tomorrow.
It is what we call breathing;
It is the cycle of night and day
And the ebb and flow of the Murrumbidgee
River that flows through our town.

And it's all out of my hands.

We were ebbing
Into something entirely
Different, my family and I.
In all paths we travelled
But we were still bound
Together in a chain beneath
The Red Sunset, the mixed blessing
That we'd endured and embraced
These last ten years -
The Sunset that was finally fading
Along with the leaves of the latest
Autumn we've ever had.

Or was it just the longest summer?

Either way

I know that
Cerulean skies are ever waiting
Beyond the heavy grey clouds
And the leaves that look
Like withered butterflies,
And I am ever chasing the horizon,
Ever guided by you all.

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