The perennial machinery must be serviced once a year,
today’s the day, and the job is mine.
I have a manual with clear instructions,
watery words on transparent paper,
and I study them closely with the tip of my nose—
when you’re done, don’t forget the disco ball,
although that might be written on the wall behind.
It’s time to consult my idea head,
neurons and neutrons orbiting on the shelf,
a capricious blend of memory and melancholy.
You must be sure, she says, about your current status—
are you in a dream, asleep,
or laughingly employed and thoughtlessly awake?
Allow me to simplify the complex,
and complicate the simple.
In dreams, the clouds wash up on beaches,
the sky is underground,
the tides flow in O’Connell Street,
and we can be together like we used to be,
with my ideas within your mind
Is it just me, I wonder parenthetically,
or is my idea head a little petulant?
Perhaps she’s jealous of my dreaming head.
I swim the sea in O’Connell Street,
search the clouds and the municipal forest,
but find no sign of the perennial machine.
There’s nothing but deciduousness—
mulberry trees, leaves under feet, and a variety
of fruits and bats.
Tonight I’ll change my plan,
I’ll bury myself beneath the garden
and sleep untouched by flights of fish and fantasy.
When the river of the morning runs,
I’ll wash away the soil,
clean out the breathing snorkel,
and see how brightly
spin the disco ball.
- Lines for a Friend, 1948-1965 in Collected Poems of Michael Dransfield, University of Queensland Press, 1993.
- a line in Tithonus (Alfred, Lord Tennyson): Man comes and tills the fields and lies beneath.
- solar mechanics also feature in my short story Lighter than Claire at The Colored Lens and my poem Nadi and the Sun.
construction—view over Chipping Norton Lake. It looks exactly like that.