Michelle Cahill / Poetry

How the Dusk Portions Time

How the Dusk Portions Time

Then one evening, after the gallery, hung with invisible
abstracts, you take me apart to flesh the miniatures:
a fleck of craquelure, speckles of mascara from my
              shadow eyes, already panda-streaked.

I fail to notice how you slip the pieces in your coat pocket.
Distracted as I am by wolf hands, the hairs in your cleft
neck. You’re not, but you might be, up yourself, I think,
              skating across the vestibule floor.

How the light divides the dream, menacing, promising
shyness or indifference, I cannot tell, though it amounts
to the same verdict. Is that what you mean about pleading
              guilty as the fig trees stir, balmy in winter?

Some evenings are this fragile. Rainbow lorikeets court
the soft crumbs, a magpie takes off with a crust, clouds
skim over the Finger Wharf, footsteps trip in the Domain
              where the pine scent lingers as lips:

ours for a flower moment, the botanist’s pinnate rose
is a name calling to its mute echo. Bats skip and loop
the legible sky in their quiet frenzy like involuntary
              kites between metallic and neon spires.

So dusk emulsifies desire, or maybe it’s the reverse
—we are tenants of this periphrastic end. Office cubicles
half-lit, ladder the sky, turning their discretionary gaze
              to what’s sketched by the carbon ink.

Michelle Cahill

“How the Dusk Portions Time” first appeared in The Best Australian Poems 2011 Ed John Tranter, (Black Inc.)

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