The Australian

Sunlight. Cicadas. Cars, mopeds, the murmur of voices. A milk foam slick floats oilily across my coffee. The new owners here may have raised their prices, but their product has yet to improve. I’m waiting, for the bank across the street to open, for the full force of the morning to break upon me. Lack of sleep and heightened anxiety coalesce just so that if I let my attention waver and unfocus my vision (a bad habit I picked up sometime around 1994, and have yet to discard) I lose the sense of where I am, not who, that always in me, going everywhere with me, now and forever, amen, but rather, where I find my self.

Before my eyes passes a crocodile of children, their heavy backpacks a cruel joke on a summer’s day. From the restaurant across the street sounds the jangle of bottles set out on a counter, the tinny slam of a door. The man at the table next to me eats pastry, intent on his newspaper, on the last few moments left in his morning that are truly his own.

Unmoored I drift in this moment of grace, this quiet sea of unparticularity.

When my eyes refocus on pine scrub, and above them that knife’s edge sky of startling blue, only then am I aware of being set apart.

Cimetière de Fontvielle, Mougins, 25 July 2013

Cimetière de Fontvielle, Mougins, 25 July 2013

— amrh / July 2013, Mouans-Sartoux

**  For those of you who are curious, “unparticularity” is a word in English, good old blunt American English too, coined by none other than Marianne Moore. Although I don’t recall reading this poem prior to a week ago, I do remember my visit to Mrs. Moore’s living room, which has been beautifully installed at the Rosenbach Museum in Philadelphia.

By Disposition of Angels
Messengers much like ourselves? Explain it.
Steadfastness the darkness makes explicit?
Something heard most clearly when not near it?
Above particularities,
these unparticularities praise cannot violate.
One has seen, in such steadiness never deflected,
how by darkness a star is perfected.

Star that does not ask me if I see it?
Fir that would not wish me to uproot it?
Speech that does not ask me if I hear it
Mysteries expound mysteries.
Steadier than steady, star dazzling me, live and elate,
no need to say, how like some we have known; too like her,
too like him, and a-quiver forever.

— from The Complete Poems of Marianne Moore (Faber & Faber, 1968, p.50)

Marianne Moore's living room, Rosenbach Museum, Philadelphia; image courtesy of

Marianne Moore’s living room, Rosenbach Museum, Philadelphia; reposted from

2 thoughts on “The Australian

  1. Bill Dolan says:

    “Lack of sleep…where I find myself.”. Right there with you as I wait for the Twinings breakfast tea to work its magic.

    The maple out back brings me ‘ round. Let the day begin.

    • Wombat1865 says:

      Thanks, Bill. The maple in your backyard is one of God’s own trees. I loved its recent appearance in that stunning new short film, “The Bear Detective.”
      xx / amrh

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