Ebon Cans

By Stuart Barnes


In the twinkling of an eye,
in a moment, all is changed
—Gwen Harwood, ‘Bone Scan’

In the twinkling of her eye, all is changed:
the small blond child afraid of almost every
thing — father, mother, himself especially —
but books, and paper and pen, awakens

in the vestry where, in four years, the lick
of the oily priest’s hand against his thigh
will roil minds. In the twinkling of an eye
he’ll coil at high school. ‘Here’s another — quick!

— stuff it in your pocket — it’s so important.’
Blackout, blackout — here it comes — his father’s
negativity. ‘There’s zero future

for you as mathematician, doctor.’
Such depths they charge; such queer laughter.
He glances over his shoulder. She mouths Write


This poem was previously published in Glasshouses (UQP 2016)