By Olga Pavlinova Olenich
left in grand abandoned rooms
inhabited by echoes and the lonely moth
that ate its way through a white history
and a brown map of Indochine
before it crawled into the yellowed pages
of a curled-up magazine
and died under a headline
that said something about war
and nothing about death.
unopened and unread
stand like tombstones on the sagging shelves
of a backstreet bookstore
and keep their illustrations to themselves.
On the counter
scattered photographs left to curl and fade.
With a sense of loss I pick one up to see
a girl who could be Marguerite Duras
and the youth who was her Chinese lover
standing side-by-side in a crowd of people
outside some looming and important gate
that possibly survives nearby
stripped of old importance.
Silently we shuffle through this
poor substitute for the panelled library
this sad monument to a gilded time
of loud triumphs and quiet crimes
that lost themselves
in the grand and crowded rooms
of hidden time.
Olga Pavlinova Olenich is a widely-published Australian poet/writer. Her poetry is included in several anthologies including 'Australian Poetry Anthology V' 2006 and 'Best Australian Poems' (Black inc. 2015)