FIRST PUBLISHED BY RETORT MAGAZINE, ON APRIL 22ND, 2002
The Music’s Habit
Straight to begging – this was the music’s habit, so that the posture of the listener was always one of giving or refusing to be persuaded. Eventually I will turn it off – all the music – so that I might once again locate the voice of chaos, not a voice of transport but at the least one which does not tell me who I am. But there, again, the music, with someone else’s face, forever requiring an introduction, wanting me to answer for it so that I may name myself! Whenever I am quick enough I chop off its fingers with a set of suitably blunt shears. (They once belonged to a rare Italian tenor who took advantage of my mother’s fondness for stripping among the Pandanus trees. I remember her hat and breasts, the sweetbriar wire with which he tied her legs.) And when music bleeds it finally loses direction. What, I ask it then, have we not sacrificed to security and freedom.
Doomed. Proof. But not of its own. Wavering. Attempting. Caught in a space of flight, both to-and-fro where the and hangs taut. Exodus. From the one-and-only. Evidence. Nought without of. Effort. Calling the soul to what the soul imagined: what could exist the same without it.
and at the End
an Examination of Emotion
and the False Metaphor of Economy
Gourd for the emotions. Always full, no matter how blank. Are there ever (any?) degrees of blankness? The beat missed by the smile? A painting of the heart revealing a face with eyes darting like tapping spoons and a mouth taking flight on wings of impressed glass? An eternity of hollowness humanizing itself, subconscious thoughts humped through the black of the eyes? Look in the face for what might repair the wounded mind with whatever is larger and more kind. Remove its crown. Go through the skin. The room around the mind is inhabited by observances of the body. They pose. Delicate, thin, tenuous, impalpable. Then crude, kicking, garish, like colours always taking over others. Warm, perhaps, like an altar, or a cold pale enthusiasm. Two faces together? So much anger that the moment becomes worthwhile; the marvellous dark dragon flies over the face and unmasks the prison and its thrashing inhabitants. So much desire that the viscera of the tongue climbs to lick the dust from love; drags love out to find its lost shoes of breath. Hear all that whistling through the tunnel of air that reaches the brain. Word-signatures avoiding coffins, finding coffins, sign the contract of the face, shine through layers of flesh! The moon is out again. The lovers are in their wallets. Following yourself becomes mandatory. What’s a corollary to skin?
Confronted by definition, almost as if it could undo me, when definition, truly, makes no claims for itself. Neither, judgement. Follow them back through a kind of weaving that doesn’t belong to a spider, indeed a spider wouldn’t own, and you may find the implications though luck is certainly not crossing the bridge to find a better home if you understand them. So, what is an unimportant detail and how do we make it stay that way while we discuss it? I was standing on a road where three ways met when I saw three men approaching along separate paths. Nice day, one of them said at our point of convergence and we all nodded. Might rain later, said another and we looked up at the sky. The weather is actually of great consequence, said the third, although our remarks are brought from abroad and don’t go to it. Hear, hear. Hear, hear. Do you think, I asked, that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost are all separate beings? and the three swapped paths and went on their way. I stood where I had been standing, waiting, sure that soon there would come more companions to discuss matters of great import. The fine weather held although there was a vague worry in my head concerning the possibility of any future conversationalists taking advantage of my good nature.
Today I want to consider ritual. How I cut my bread and into how many pieces. How ritual shouts as habit whispers. But each in the same language where abundance finds categories and learns to share itself as if scarce. (On certain quiet days in my brain I cut the toast whichever is the other way I do it when I’m not thinking about it.) But forward with a hypothesis that will keep changing its place. Each life is a ceremony performed in ignorance by the one who lives it. Each act observes the gathered minutiae of the world it draws into its becoming. This dynamism that is your handful sacrifices death to the god of suicides. That god is a god for all of us and does not inhabit volcanoes and churches. And as I was saying, how I do certain things with teapots which are different to what you do with them, the reluctance of certain hours to my particular actions, for example, beer never before five in the afternoon. This may seem trivial, what I eat and drink, but rituals are found anywhere and are somewhat like the mind gathering swirling leaves while allowing them to swirl. Or they are a bit like smoke that has cultivated its wild imagination or conceptual threads that have become visible with all their attendant fragility and gentle resistant intentions. And oh, as if there was anything with such ulterior motives! The secrets we keep from ourselves! That might be enough to say if Bertocci hadn’t said, ‘the wound calls for the knife and the knife for the wound’.
© MTC Cronin
MTC Cronin’s work first appeared in print in 1993 and since then she has had six books and one booklet of poetry published, between them shortlisted for the Jessie Litchfield Award for Literature, the Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards, the Age Poetry Book of the Year, the Qld Premier’s Literary Awards, the Wesley Michel Wright Prize for Poetry, the NSW Premier’s Literary Awards and the Adelaide Festival Awards for Literature. Her most recent books are Talking to Neruda’s Questions and Bestseller (Vagabond Press, 2001) and My Lover’s Back: 79 Love Poems (UQP, 2002). An eighth collection, beautiful, unfinished ~ PARABLE/SONG/CANTO/POEM is forthcoming through Salt Publishing (Cambridge, UK) in 2003. Other awards for her work include the Gwen Harwood Memorial Prize for Poetry, the Artsrush Poetry Prize and the Marten Bequest Travelling Scholarship for Poetry. After being employed for most of the decade of the nineties in law (specializing in feminist jurisprudence), she has now begun teaching writing at university level. Also, with Mireille Juchau (novelist, essayist and playwright) and Caitlin Newton-Broad (youth theatre director), she runs Muse on Wheels, a group which provides writing workshops in secondary schools. She is currently working on her doctorate, Poetry and Law: Discourses of the Social Heart, at the University of Technology.