Eltham Station, 8.01 am
School girls whinny and toss their yellow manes
in half-wild herds on board the morning train.
I'll never be like that again. What's quick
in them now slows in me, though I recall
their visceral scent, new-glistening, which makes
grown men and school boys shift, ambivalent
in their vinyl seats. The girls gossip and stamp
their black-laced feet. Some part their legs a bit.
Something's begun, some urgent heartstrong need
for root and seed that no old god can halt,
no worn-out creed. The train groans to a stop.
The girls get off in a flecked-skirt, skittish mob,
disperse. And yet, the taut wire of their want
persists; their sharp desire, its imperative.
I really look forward to The Best Australian Poems each year.
It's always a feast. And this year it is not sorted from Adamson
to Ziguras (or even vice versa) nor by the title of the poem, but
by a narrative imperative. Look, almost every poem in the book
is tip top, (it's a rare year that has many duds) but this mob of
school girls on the train is my first pick to share. I have been
one of those girls, and now I am not one of those girls.