IAN C SMITH’s work has been published in BBC Radio 4 Sounds,Cable Street,The Dalhousie Review, Gargoyle, Griffith Review, Honest Ulsterman, Offcourse,& Stand. His seventh book is wonder sadness madness joy, Ginninderra (Port Adelaide). He writes in the Gippsland Lakes area of Victoria, and on Flinders Island.


She says something about money.  Wary as a sidestepping crow, I know I should pay attention after cowering from her furious silences.  Nightfall, wind creaking in the cracks, scenes from our fenestrated past blind turn around my brain, tantalising.  She bares a stark truth about us, here, in this house as cold as boring sex.  Words elude me.  No-one witnesses this tension but us, ageing dramatis personae, the slow unzipping of a tight black dress as obsolete as fantasies of swooning in love forever.

Turning pages I pause at an odd noun, my mind a vespiary because she just uttered it.  I read an absurd name she then mentions at dinner with no a priori knowledge.  Recollecting distant events I come across references to them shortly afterwards, repeatedly, saw her glass shattered before she dropped it, knew she would reverse her car into our closed gates, ominous, but nary a glimpse of a consoling angel.

If a preview of what lies ahead promised wall-to-wall contentment I might relax, but creeping discord’s heavy cloak drags through the dark Byzantium of our history.  Thoughts de rigueur for the socially isolated, I flinch from further signs; rain drumming on the deck, the ghostly rattle of her wind chimes, any measured tread approaching my door.  I am not practical like her.

My mind’s attic now her regret, I should kiss her hand, seek the emollient of the girl she was in that old scarred bar near the bombed bridge where we danced when young.  Death’s plateau looming closer than that distant maelstrom of lost innocence, I am compelled to chronicle harsh details, those tenuous days unmagicked, gone.  This is serious.