Contemporary Australian Poetry
Overflow by Charlotte Guest
Jesus in the straw hat paddock by James Walton
Afternoon rain on the windows,
bare rooms stilled with light – an idea of the house
that had always haunted your life in it,
as if to say This is the machine of the present.
It reinvents experience as a daydream.
This is the empty house –
The rain sound is less like sound
than it is the trick of familiar places, which return
things to the conditions of imagery.
Boxes filled with what you own. Now
room after room you make this more entire
architecture of memory –
An infinite of loss closed
in its frame like the house of a modernist: furniture
fit to the room. Everything thought, every
thing remembered, as if somebody else’s
house now has you in it, a collector of things as they were
in somebody else’s dream –
Because a collector is free
as facing mirrors prove the renewal in what it is
to be possessed. Rooms you could walk through
blind, windows of rain-coloured light.
This is the house that silence returns to you.
This is the empty house.
Previously published in Best Australian Poems 2014
Lisa Gorton lives in Melbourne and writes poetry, fiction, essays and reviews. Lisa completed a doctorate on John Donne's poetry and prose at Oxford University. Her awards include the Victorian Premier's Prize for Poetry, the Vincent Buckley Poetry Prize, the John Donne Society Award for Distinguished Publication in Donne Studies, and the Philip Hodgins Memorial Medal. Her most recent publications, both from Giramondo, are the poetry collection Hotel Hyperion and a novel, The Life of Houses.