21 May 2012

Tuesday Poem: Revenant, by Harvey Molloy

Time’s called.
The tables wiped and the windows latched
and the cellar trap door closed and bolted.
He lies still in his bed.
Headlights from passing cars arc across the wall.

Time’s called.
He walks on the stair and does not feel
stair underfoot. 
He waits by the fireplace in the function room.
He waits and he waits for what?

Time’s called.
Upstairs he finds a party, all talk
hushed whispers at the oak panelled door
as if a reading or recital is about to begin.
He turns to talk as streamers and balloons fall.

Time’s called.
There’s only a girl with braided hair
and her back to the window pulley. Then nothing. 
What was the question he wanted to ask?
Where is your mother?  Where’s sleep?

Time’s called.
He hears laughter downstairs in the snug bar.
A match struck and the tinkle of glasses
after closing. Outside the weather
improves. The wind drops. A woman’s
laughter falls between shadows. 

Time’s called.
He is not quite nothing, his memories
housed in frames. He flickers
like a daguerreotype in an old man’s dream.
The party downstairs is over.
He is not yet ready to leave.

Credit note: "Revenant" first appeared in broadsheet 7 and was subsequently published as the Dominion Post's "Wednesday Poem". It is published here by kind permission of the author.

Tim says: What a cool poem, and how well it characterises the revenant, the ghost not yet ready to leave. This is one of the many fine poems that Harvey is writing - I very much enjoyed his first collection, Moonshot, and think his next collection is going to be even better. You can find out more about Harvey and his writing on his blog.

The Tuesday Poem: You can check out the other Tuesday Poems for this week on the Tuesday Poem blog - the hub poem at the centre of the page, and all the other poems to the left.



Penelope said...

I like the echoes of The Waste Land in this; the calling of time throughout the poem.

Michelle Elvy said...

yes, I like this one too. It has a melancholy, lingering way about it. But it's also so matter-of-fact. I think the repetition helps achieve that.

Helen McKinlay said...

Yes I like the repetition too. it's actually got a lovely feeling to it and yet it is matter of fact. Thanks Tim and Harvey.

Tim Jones said...

Thanks, Penelope, Michelle, and Helen!

Rachel Fenton said...

Reminds me very much of a great M R James ghost story - beautiful evocation of the longing to stay - though we all know you're darn lucky in a pub if they call time that many times - pull another pint, quick!

Tim Jones said...

Thanks, Rachel - The M R James comparison is a very apt one, I think.

Harvey Molloy said...

Thank you all for your comments. As a child I lived, briefly, in an old pub in Salem Brew, Oldhams, Lancs. It was really quite a creepy pub--rumoured, as I remember, to be haunted. I have many unhappy memories of our time there and feel grateful that we moved from there to happier years in the village of Delph in Saddleworth.

Tim Jones said...

Thanks for dropping by, Harvey!

Rachel Fenton said...

Thaks for the background, Harvey, I well imagine it was a far from pleasant location for a child. One of the scariest ghost stories I read was set in a pub/hotel, though the title has vapourised now! Then again, one of the funniest had scenes in a pub - "The Ghost Ship" I think...childhood is scary though, so much fear of dying in it. At some point we grop up and are brave, apparently, else resigned to endings.

Tim Jones said...

Sorry for the delay in publishing this comment, Rachel - I forgot that this post has been up for long enough that comments have to undergo moderation!

Bill Manhire grew up as the child of publicans ... it would be interesting to re-visit his work looking for ghost stories.