AN ACRE OF ENGLAND For Paul Broom, MBE An acre of England lies in my mind and travels with me delighted to find Ashfield near Sydney and Strathfield just behind. This train carries people and histories on time. Chinese and Lebanese, Bengalis and Nepalese and escapees from Italy and Greece jostle for space with bankers and with refugees and the occasional natives: Aborigines whose 60,000 years have overstayed the expanse of the Australian mind. At Morriset or Fassifern or Wondabyne I see the land and its peoples in British names entwined. Nations and ages come but to pass but a train ties all receding sights to ancestries of the speeding heart. Brits, this is not your country any more. Aussies, are you happy? Beware though, there's a convict poet on every train missing an acre of England that is Australia rediscovered, retimed, re-rhymed, restored. DISCIPLINE OF FORM A gaggle of girls from a Sydney train Elbows its giggling way through the platform And rushes up the stairs to catch the rain Or a bus or wait for Pa in this storm. A broken evening arrives like a hearse On the highway's sudden bend just ahead When young unknowns all around me disperse And leave new poems unwritten and unread. But before you go, "Excuse me. I've come This far but am new here and I don't know The way to myself from the setting sun To a land I have never seen before." They look askance at my age and laugh on. This sonnet and I recede into form.
Asad Latif is a Singapore-based journalist. He can be contacted at badiarghat@borderlesssg1
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