After the Leaving…
There are two countries here:
One securely meets the eye;
The other binds your heart.
This is Perth, and yet Malacca.
Outside, suddenly spring arrives
In many wild, surprising flowers.
But no chempaka, no melor
Show that beauty of the heart.
You have lost more hair, though
Your spectacles perch as usual,
Looking quizzical, slightly anxious.
Beyond King's Park, the Swan
Whose neck nestles among vineyards,
Ministers to your dreaming home
To which I go again, in ceremony,
Remembering... your ukulele
Mastering the restless crabs,
Sunset upon the brow of Panteh 2;
Our shared tobacco; images of
Heroic days, court and kampong;
That great Tranquerah mosque,
St Paul's Hill, Sam Po's Well,
And other abodes of our gods.
But here the roads are happily
Waltzing with Matilda, leading
Through miles of bush to Laverton,
Abandoned mines, receding purple hills.
And as you hear the recurring
Soul of Voss adventuring Ayers Rock,
The Dream-time, purifying deserts,
Shore, sky and hinterland are yours.
But you return to Heeren Street,
Ancestral rooms, intricate histories,
Starting with a distant fracture
Of law, of order one quiet noon
Along uncoiling Amoy Streets,
Where the migrant, restless spirit
Took passion to an alien land.
You feel a deep possession.
Seven generations of the blood
Have stirred into the earth,
Gave sinew, fought fevers.
Held down swamps, added
Fertile patterns to the land,
Made the dragon speak
The brown language of the
Constant, Southern winds.
After the riots and the edicts,
You cried in the days of blight.
To leave again, after seven generations,
You must know so bitterly,
Is surely to return.