John Watson


42 Choices

The water beetle walked, and traced soft paths
Like veins. The barges moved. And all left paths.

To set down all we see and hear, and yet
Speak only of the amazing. Such cleft paths!

Flambeaux of memory, like jacaranda flares
Flood with their light our passage down strafed paths.

Sublime the long unconscious choices made
Which guide the migrant kestrel’s drift paths.

White peacocks fanning in a haze of blue,
The energy of crossing weft paths!

What thou lovest well — these foolish things
Remain with us along bereft paths.

We walk a course of shadow roofed paths,
The forest floor a maze of sun-sift paths.


43 Reappearances

A mirror blurred — the river in the wind —
Reedwater mazes shudder in the wind.

The rhododendron like a torch of ice,
The eucalypts turn silver in the wind.

Cupid in the trees is searching for
Spent arrows and a quiver in the wind.

Deep sedimentary waves in ancient rock
Wash over us and freshen sorrow in the wind.

Pompeian ash, all ancient stars’ debris,
Breathes and unmoulds its lava in the wind.

The Past’s a silo bunkered on the plains;
Whole days may sometimes loiter in the wind.

She has her hair cut short, then stepping out
She feels her face, her self, blow in the wind.


A Saucer of Tea
After Mikhail Kuzmin

A saucer of tea exhales its cloud of steam
Through which Mount Fujiyama bends and stares
Remarkably contracted to this frame.

The surface of this shimmering lake appears
To make it dance. Look how the gossamer
Of clouds is pierced by countless glimmering rays

Whose source is like a garnet ant’s head there,
And how the tea leaves swerve like fish or birds
Across its topaz. All of spring could here

Be so contained: white almond blossom braids
Bound by its rim, late melt snow light this tea,
And all the bay lie sheltering in its shades.

But now a sudden cleaving of the sky!
A branch of bright mimosa sways and sighs
And lies across the saucer like a straw.

So is it that within a page of prose
— Across the eddying shallows of its stream —
A line of amorous verse will sometimes rise.



John Watson is the author of A First Reader; Montale A Biographical Anthology; Erasure Traces; Views From Mt Brogden & A Dictionary of Minor Poets — all available from Puncher and Wattmann and all recommended without reservation by the author.