Frail, like rain. Great, like the storm.
Frail, great one — close all the windows,
there’s a storm outside.

There’s love outside.

Frail, like rain. Great, like the storm.

There’s twilight outside —
and in the twilight, a line of five palm trees
rise against the horizon.

Frail, like a moment. Great, like time.

There’s love inside.
Frail, great one — storm — close all the shutters,
there’s someone waiting outside.

There’s someone moving inside.
And through them, across them,
fine white sand is being blown like smoke:
you jump a little as the curled flakes of walnut shells
stir in the air, and begin to slide over the table;
and the sprinkler system comes on
at the exact moment the first few drops begin falling.

Great, like the stars. Frail, like light.

There’s nightfall outside.

There’s a voice outside —
and, in the voice — calling — words among palm trees
hushing against the horizon.

Frail, like a wave. Great, like the sea.
Frail, great one — calm — open all the shutters,
the storm is over.

I’d like to give you every word there is,
but there’s too little time —
and I have only the frailest words — poems —
that bend their thin shoulders
under the weight of the great world
and tremble a little.

Frail one, my Palm,
I have only blades of grass, or the pale, plastic, celestial blue
of the top to a bottle of Evian —
I have only seconds, or cracks, not years, or ‘reign’.
All the rest have gone, and we cannot use them now.
This is all there is — these are the end —
there are no others. And — humble, dronelike —
these are the ones which have come to us,
their backs bent, trembling a little.

Take my words, dispense with them.
Crush them, shatter them, use them, forget them.
They’re frail, but only for you.
They’re great, but only when you have gone.

When two hours meet, the clock chimes in the squat church tower
and mingles them with bronze.
When two hours meet, they meet in the bell.
Then the hours leave each other,
and the bell falls quiet.

When two words meet — frail, great one —
they meet like this.

And then there’s a sky, which is great, like a sky.
There’s the lighthouse on the point,
standing under the sky — Barrenjoey.
There’s the pale blue plastic lid from an Evian bottle,
the silver nutcrackers — memory — among the shells.
There’s the ocean, which is always leaving — it says — tomorrow.
And there’s a voice, which is always staying — it says — today.

Yesterday, there was a voice, which — we said — could never end,
it can only begin. And there was a word — it says,
now — which lies on your voice the way
a cloud lies on the wind. And then there’s darkness
on the point, and the shirr of waves in the darkness.
There’s the faint sound of a catarrhal Volkswagen engine — Barrenjoey.
There’s the road itself, heading towards the rocks and the horizon.
And then there’s a sky, which is great, like a sky.

I don’t want to give you every word there is —
but only these words — sieved out and modest, and sure.
When two words meet, frail one, great one,
the world bends its back under them
and trembles a little.

Take my words, carry them a little way.
Keep my words forever for their aftertaste
of misfortune and smoke.
Keep them for their silence.
Keep them for their duration — frail one —
carry them for their fragile sky.

Yelling one, crying one, stamping one, peaceful one.
Keep me for my duration.

Great one. Frail one.
Great as the wave. Frail as the sea.