karuna: a numbers poem

by
Henry Briffa

1.

an uneasy quiet descends upon our Hawthorn home

yet every evening increasing numbers of white cockatoos


glide and dive

playing in new-found freedom


2.

on the way to the bathroom

I look through the kitchen door


siting on the table is a rat

with the coat of a Guernsey


I try to stare him out

he looks straight through me    chewing


he eats through The Saturday Paper

devouring sport and art


suffocating markets

scratching out flights


3.

in the paper my friend ’s letter:

I’m 59, happy to give my ventilator


to someone younger

I’m far less selfless


nearly 63

hope there’s one for me


4.

first bankroll of the social wage

the descent of our Virgin


the purchase and storage of oil

Great Scott prays his decisions are right


5.

since starting work on-line from home

and doing my best with D.I. Y.


I’m viewed more clearly

in her eyes


she no longer loves her image

of me     but the flawed man I am


6.

can’t we just delete the digits owed?

will we stop to consider biodiversity?


will we now save

other forms of life?


7.

a man stands looking towards the Yarra

taking in the view


he turns towards me and says

I’m exercising


It’s ok I respond

I won’t be making a citizen’s arrest


8.

silent night

except for someone outside


a stranger walking in our cul de sac

whose coughing     wakes me


Kuruna:  Maltese for rosary-beads or prayer beads (but can also mean a crown) while in Greek prayer-beads and worry beads come from the same root and both involve counting.

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© University of Canberra | Poetry on the Move 2020
Poetry on the Move is a major initiative of the Centre for Creative and Cultural Research in the Faculty of Arts and Design, University of Canberra.

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