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Jacket 16 — March 2002   |   # 16  Contents   |   Homepage   |  Catalog   |    

Overland magazine feature

Jane Gibian

Leaf and letter

All day the old trolley buses with their insect
antennae speed around corners; autumn
generously takes its time surrendering
to winter but the afternoons end with abruptness.
There is no separate word for wood
here, where the darkening trunks
are still violently coloured,  
and furniture is made of trees.
Everywhere orange papery leaves are strewn
carelessly; you make a joke that doesn’t work
in english but leafand letter
are the same word in hungarian.
Almost next door the Welcome for Soldiers
club offers live acts with a snake
or with candles; next to the homeless
sleeping in the metro
women with headscarves sell
unpretentious flowers wrapped in newspaper.
My eyes itch with pollution
and our fingernails are instantly dirty;
there is no maximum number
of standing passengers allowed on trams
whose uncushioned seats facing
each other are so close they seem built
for the endless lovers who sit always legs
and hands entwined, waiting to alight
at one of the elegant grimy bridges
where long after our tolerance for cliché
is exhausted, they will embrace
against the watery backdrop
of the surprisingly olive-green Danube.

Jane Gibian is a Sydney poet. She is the co-director of Vagabond Press. Her first collection The Body’s Navigation was published in 1998. She is working on a PhD about teenage girls, ethnicity and reading. Jane Gibian will be taking up an AsiaLink writing residency in Vietnam in 2002.

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