The Knowledge


In Sydney we lived for three weeks
next to the police morgue.

We'd never have known
had our host not informed us,

for that building
was as blank as they come–

concrete blocks, windowless,
the lighting muted, nothing

to catch attention–and yet
once I knew, I'd wake

to the click of the gate-latch,
watch the delivery

in the back door, the box trundled
out of the van. Very discreet

indeed. But then I began thinking–
how our own bodies lay

on the same level, perhaps parallel
to those others–the man robbed

in his cab, shot in the head,
burned to a crisp–the pilot gone down

in the bush, flown back to town–
the Strathfield killer and all

his victims. They wound up there,
next door to us, confessions

night after night that the city
is far from gentle, that again

and again darkness is chosen.
And only the sponge, dipped

in vinegar, is soft
as it was on Christ's face.


David Ray, Kangaroo Paws, Thomas Jefferson University Press, 1994.