Slow beauty this morning:
Dried apple gum and parsley
In a glass pasta sauce
Bottle; Steinbeck’s idea of redemption.

Dense clouds make it seem mountainous
But the sharp legs of grasshoppers
Know that by midday the council
Worker turning the traffic sign

Will sense and be rapt in
A lazy, bent readiness to leap.
Distance is home. Children’s voices
Offer, in their quiet, broken

Play, a peculiar new light:
A light of bed sheets and torches,
And all manner of toys
Taken to a small den

Besides the river’s revelation
Where the heart wanders,
Has been wandering forever, picked up
For vagrancy, beaten; grown

Accustomed to unmissed clothes,
Widow food, an imagination
Of fire. Water leaves the last
Ditch. Mosquito larvae stab

At the boot print impression
To find shade. What’s left
To remember of peace
And joy belongs at the kitchen

Table where a knife’s heard,
A teacup set to saucer, now
And then a radio or
Something like it shifting frequency.

About the Poem

I have been re-reading a number of classic texts this year, and at the moment am part way through, East of Eden (Steinbeck). It occurs to me that the human capacity to remember is so tenuous. There are many parts of the book that were too grand for me the first time or too confronting, or just missed as I attempted to retain plot and character relationships. One notion that surfaced as I was re-reading was that of redemption. We have the capacity to redeem and be redeemed!

Secondly, On the day of writing this poem, it is Remembrance Day, in Australia. My children have the alarm set for eleven o’clock, so we do not forget. On this day, we reflect on those who have helped redeem us as a nation, through their service, protection, and sacrifice. Included in all this is the small-scale, intimate beauty of the place in which we live, which I am grateful for and are valuable to me as an Australian. They remind me to be thankful and feel grief for those men and women who fought and wandered around like Adam Trask in the novel, unable to come home from war until a work of redemption was done in them, their land, and those to whom they were connected. A work that is required in us all.

About the Author

Glenn McPherson is a Sydney-based poet. He has been widely published in Australian Journals and Anthologies. In 2022, he was featured in the Newcastle and ACU Poetry Prize Anthology and was published in the Best of Australian Poetry 2022. In 2023, he was a finalist in the Gwen Harwood Poetry Competition, shortlisted for the South Coast Writers Poetry Prize; published in Topical Poetry Journal, and InDaily/Poets Corner.

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