Alex Skovron


I saw them kiss before the televisions—I mean
in front of them, on the footpath. It was 1958,
the stores all up and down Oxford Street, well,
Grace Brothers for sure, had TVs on display,
and I spotted the two necking (that was the word
then) up against the plate-glass window once
between Crusader Rabbit and (I think) Rawhide.

Each day, it seemed, there was more to see,
but my cousin Vince reckoned that best of all
he liked ‘Test Pattern and Music’ (that’s what
was listed in our TV Week, right after ‘Close’),
but since he wasn’t allowed to stay up late
he would trot down to the local electrical-goods
of a morning, before the start of transmission,
press his nose toward the grid till the glass
fogged up. Lucy for her part, usually with him,
would skip across the street to the dress-shop
opposite there, and gaze at the dummy bride
becalmed in her lacy but faceless splendour,
a chip below her knee that only I could detect.

What did we know then of, well, anything?
I tried to avoid them, with their make-believe
tele-romance, keener on the roundabout
behind the cinema, satisfied Sunday evenings
(six-thirty) to knock on the Aberdeens’ door,
three houses down from our flat, and settle
on the carpet with their Gary and small Rosalie
in front of The Mickey Mouse Club, looking out
for Darlene or Cheryl or whatever-her-name,
lusting after them in my ten-year-old way,
while Mr and Mrs A. stood in their kitchen
behind us, smooching—like in those movies
at the Star we weren’t supposed to be allowed into.


Embarking on one of her flights of imagination
she tripped over several particulars and grew airborne.
Among these was a ginger kitten she’d seen unfit
to adopt the previous Christmas and a mossy boulder
that had become dislodged at the ragged brickline
dividing the carport from the dead vegetable patch.
In truth she fell so clumsily that the songs and sonnets
of Petrarch in her armpit, a carton of opera highlights
for the op-shop against her chest and a carrybag
full of a retired AM/FM receiver, all tumbled haywire
before her while she danced acrobatically, abortively,
to repossess her balance. Discovering herself now
sprawled between the crimson tail-lights of the SUV
and the roll-a-door, Laura lay painful for a minute,
trying to recollect the new poem she’d been wrestling
(another of those several particulars) at the instant
of her decline, when it struck her she may have broken
a bone. She stirred, felt about her person, flexed
every limb in turn; then, reassured of her intactness,
she stretched for the kitten, cowering gingerly
against the passenger-side rear wheel of the Jeep,
scruffed it up by its neck and squeezed it inexplicably
into the empty CD carton. Then she got up, retrieved
the paperback, opened it at random, and, offering
the stone a half-volley kick, declared with Francesco:
‘There is honour in the distance my soul has travelled.’


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