The Hard Shards of Class
Devising figments to temper his nothingness.
- Samuel Beckett, ‘Company’
So much, he thinks, felling & furrowing,
blasting & wiring into the hard body
of this land till we forced out its food.
Now we’re fat as slugs or locust plagues
in a rainy spring, as the train speeds on
to Cootamundra. Why do the folks
milling on the platform fill him
with sudden sadness, taught awareness
of his lazy paunch? Maybe it’s just
the Beckett on his lap, the train lunch,
dun poverty, hardness of faces used
to yakka, biff & debt as he is not
cosy & looking out of smeary glass
like a class voyeur into hardiplank
yards filled with rusting cans & cars
flagpoles, a boat far from navigable
rivers or liberating sea. The train
creeps past. Trapped in bodies, history,
class & always some infernal glass
between himself, them, him, a mirror
refracting hard shards of inside out.
Next stop: Harden.
I got to launch Peter Lach-Newinksy's new book Requiem (Picaro Press) at Collected Works in Melbourne last week. And I chose to read this poem because I have travelled many times on the train to Melbourne from the Southern Highlands where Peter still lives, and between Yass Junction and Cootamundra is the station called Harden. My mind has played with that name many times. I also like the station called The Rock. You know it is coming up when you look out of the window and see the bloody big rock.