Elizabeth Allen: 2 poems

  Elizabeth Allen

  two poems

  ‘Exit stage right’, and
  ‘Reflexive verbs: a French lesson’
  Exit stage right

                    for Mark Riboldi

I move frequently; I’m sort of on the run but I am not sure what from. The other night I was passing through a town and the only place open was a 7-Eleven, a bright neon oasis. I went inside, a moth attracted to so much sudden light, and bought a box of Toblerone, telling myself it would be an excellent example of a triangular prism to teach three-dimensional shapes to the kids. I planned the whole lesson out in my head — we would pass the box around and discuss the number of vertices, faces and edges — before I remembered I am not a teacher anymore. Then I thought I should write something about that as my status update, it is the kind of thing people would find entertaining, and then the moment passed. There are moments passing all the time here. It keeps me awake sometimes. Funny really, you would think I would be used to it by now: the rhythm of the noise they make outside my window, the light through my curtain as they come closer and recede. Throughout the next day it is like I can hear their echo, a sound repeating itself inside my inner ear. I thought I was the only one that heard them then I got an angry note in my letterbox. It described the noise they make, the exact rising pitch, it recorded the times they most frequently occur, the sense of loss they leave behind. The author of the note provided a phone number for a complaints line you could ring. It warned that whoever was responsible would be found out and stopped. It was only a matter of time. It made me feel better to know that someone else had noticed. I put the note in the recycling bin but I wish I had kept it. It might have been a comfort to look at it when I am awake at night. Are you still on Despointes St? I remember those days fondly when I was on Forbes and you were on Despointes. We were happy for the most part, weren’t we? I mean sometimes lonely in a half-hearted and at times desperate way but the overarching mood was happiness, at least that is the impression anyone would have got from Facebook. Sorry I left without saying goodbye. I am not even sure why am I writing to you now after so long. I feel like I know you and yet not at all — like you are a triangular prism and I have seen one face, actually felt it against my palm, and imagined all the others. You can only look from one vantage point after all; seeing all faces at once is impossible. Occasionally you get seated at the theatre in such a way that you get a glimpse of what is happening in the wings. You get a momentary view of the actor before they appear with their onstage face on. My drama teacher at school used to tell us that you should never turn your back to the audience. Funny the rules you innocently take as gospel when you are young. Now I wonder if it wasn’t something to do with the vulnerability of the back of the neck.
  Reflexive verbs: a French lesson
to wash
to shave
to dress
to comb
to meet each other
to get along with
to go to bed [with]
to hurry
to marry
to be mistaken
to manage
to become bored
to become angry
to wake up
to take a walk
Australian poet Elizabeth Allen reading at Sappho Bookstore, Glebe, Sydney.
Australian poet Elizabeth Allen reading at Sappho Bookstore, Glebe, Sydney.

 

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