LADY OF THE MURALS (Stephen Oliver)

‘The memory of you keeps calling after me like a
rolling train.’ — Bob Dylan & Sam Shepard: Brownsville Girl

‘Out of a headstrong cloud column emerged one square-rigged ship, buckled to the waves …’ But here the story neither begins nor ends. ‘The entire landscape, graveyard, public gardens, Peacock’s farmstead over the river, extensively undermined by rabbits,’ you answered in response to her query about the innumerable burrows, and promptly imagined the whole shebang catacombed with intersections and way stations, a veritable metro-subway system stretching for leagues—Kingdom of the Rabbit.
    That smile O how it illuminated her calm, Byzantine beauty. Lady of the Murals. This Russian student, newly arrived to complete her Masters in Mezmerisation. You talked easily for an hour or so then parted. She pointed out that her name, Katerina, had Greek origins, ‘like the Orthodox Church,’ she explained. Looking back, across at that Trig station in the afternoon light, you observed within its framework a broad, tree-lined boulevard. Dusk, and headlights shimmering off into some other century, already dissolved in space-time, seemingly vanished through the wormhole. As if she were truly present in the continuum, that you had intercepted.
    Before finally walking away you had already taken those farewell steps in your mind, embraced all you perceived of her in that sustained, shared moment. Departure can be understood as symbolic acknowledgement, an inverted greeting yet barely sensed, become footnote to this manufactured recollection. A brief encounter. Beneath the congealed sunset you tracked back to your car, strategically positioned for an unhurried exit, parked there amongst the memorial plaques and headstones.


Stephen Oliver—Australasian poet and author of twenty one volumes of poetry. Travelled extensively. Signed on with the radio ship The Voice of Peace 1540 kHz broadcasting in the Mediterranean out of Jaffa, Israel in the late 70s. Lived in Australia for 20 years. Currently living in NZ. He has published widely in international literary journals. Regular contributor of creative non-fiction and poems to Antipodes: A Global Journal of Australian/New Zealand Literature. Poems translated into German, Spanish, Chinese, and Russian. Represented most recently in the following: Writing To The Wire Anthology, edited by Dan Disney and Kit Kelen, University of Western Australia Publishing, 2016; The Australian Prose Poem Anthology, edited by Cassandra Atherton and Paul Hetherington, Melbourne University Press (2020). His latest poetry volumes: HEROIDES / 15 SONNETS, Puriri Press, Auckland 2020; THE SONG OF GLOBULE / 80 Sonnets, Greywacke Press, Canberra, 2020.