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Stephen Scourfield Writing
'Recent Travels'
Bali bombing:

Down cascading rice fields
where villagers pray for boys,
harvest in arcing thrash,
tattoo with ferns white on brown skin
and marshal ducks to insects,
Hindu bells and drums chant
in a valley moistened green
by humidity and vibrant belief.
In this Island of the gods
with the chip of shrine chisels
and sweet smokes of cremation,
only the cataclysm of explosion
could razor an organic peace.
Hong Kong Sundays:

Filipino maids nest in thousands,
perched hard on the floor
of gorges carved by commerce,
This one weekly day of freedom
restricted by tradition and need,
In a congregation exiled by economics,
to a bereft monoculture of age and sex.
The tight flocks twitter,
spread communal feed on cloth,
some lie, belly-sagged on sides,
pillowed on praying hands.
Swallows gather like quavers,
Preparing for a migration
far beyond the grounded.
Johannesburg days:

Beaded under brollies
with an inherent dignity
black women walk wide roads,
silky of skin and movement,
hair plaited tight as roots,
knowledgeable here.
Hubcaps for roadside sale
in rows, jewels on dirt,
haircuts, coathangers, firewood.
In white suburbia
knitted by razorwire
fear is filmed daily
by backyard cameras,
amid all this walking.
Kimberley Aboriginal singing:

Cowboy chords tin-jangle,
swelled by a black nasal croon,
desperate to soundflood the night.
But it can’t drown the chorus
which chants ominous inside him
as an elder ‘sings’ his woman away.
At night he plays western and yodels
against the pneumonic sound
filling his lungs like tide.
He smells the first salt of death.
On full moon he rolls his swag
leaving in white-dark,
no blame or pity for her or himself.
The singing recedes like current
and feather slippers are not made.


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