Chinatown/The Brooch*Little Bourke Street

(theology of australia iv)


Ah Ling and Leong Yang


wheels and handles

carrying the hollowed out


of the gold miner

from the Yellow River

(crossing the flooded

silt stream

standing up

on the raft


tightly englotted


stiltedly watching

for the oralness of prey)

Yellow neon

flash flicker


her brooch

from the Song Dynasty

wrapped in silk

(that silk enclosure)

as I approach the alley end

the walls give way

to the coast at Quorn

place of journeying

he says travel east east

(circumambulate they wrote later

in the community guide book)

for two days

you'll arrive in a red sunrise/

the pinyin/

there/ eat the salt fish wontons

laquered black bowls

chipped and strewn

along the bluestone cobbles

east east gold gold

you'll see the old blue

(and gold)


hanging at the entrance

excising the smoke

from her story


in the jewellery pieces

pinned to the inside

of her mouth

and all goes well

(if you could say that)

until after dark

the alley spaces

(the adornments

the adornments)

fold the time

wearing her qipao well

she said

she stands at the door

ordering food

commanding the space


somehow by her presence

held here/ within

(and without)

this entanglement

this paraphrased architecture

of cultureness

we walked from Castlemaine

(the market building

curved roof

ancient circles of light)

to Shark Fin yum cha

that Sunday

secreting the crystalline

swallowing the glint

the sparkle

the everlasting glow

that enchanted Phillip II

of Macedonia

on that side of the brooch

and four thousand years

of the Dynasties

in those loops

that unstructured genealogy

(old enough to incorporate

in the celadon glaze

of the porcelain spoons

we carry for soup)

/she called it Chinese Red

pigment for Emperors

(carmine beetles

from the Mexican

cactus in his hat)

and used it to frame

(and hold)

my brooch/urn/

qing ming/

my ancestor photos

glass slides

on the old pianola

(and the broken ehru)

this magenta

that dyes his history

she brushes

it on her lips

on Saturday nights

(playing cards/

watching them pass by)

he stir-fries the squid

on gas jets

gongs the brass plates

lights the incense

(hears the lions' murmur)

travels us across the sky

touching constellations


the cavorting narratives

holds them close

they line the walkway


once, twice

(watch the light) and

(third time lucky

all the eights)

fires the explosions

gunpowder supreme

(across the Yangtze/

across the Styx)

into space


poet's biography ->