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You – Matter

I can hear you thinking
Said the stone to my pocket
Every morning before children
When the house is still
                                 and still turning
on its axis of activity and dream
I make                      and am made
There is something amazing
about the still-ness of things –
that they are still here
                                  Yes even still –
they lie in wait for my hand
                                    my eye my heart
the weight of my attention
                 to press them into existence
Mould them a backbone
a fishbone – a wishbone snapped
                 and whittled
like a hippopotamus tooth – becoming
ever thinner – but with more bite
This thought is becoming base – Besser block concrete brick –
as if perhaps it is willing itself into the road
This thought is gaining ground – propelling itself along like a grub
Grabbing at things beyond reach – stretching my thought
like a rubber band, like pulled toffee, like a long afternoon
This thought is growing legs
                                                            and feet
It is making long strides
Soon the idea will grow a spine
                                        get itself some guts
find the stomach for endless chewing
It will start to metabolise – a curious alchemy
turning whim to matter
                  fancy to substance
                  urge to produce
                  straw to gold
It will breathe life into itself
It will find inspiration
                  and exhalation
It will fog up the windows
                                                     and sigh
                    long into the night
It will start to feel the thready pulse
                                                      of compulsion
The idea will take heart
will fall for things            obsess over them
will find the will
the nerve              will radiate
Soon the idea will start to get ideas
                    have a mind of its own
will find its voice                         answer back
                     call                          and respond
ask itself questions
ask questions of me                   and I will answer
To think things through is to think through things
Turning to them as to friends
– to the sandstone the rivergum the blackwood –
to see how they touch you                  move you
Think through this thing                             
                                           come out the other side
with dust on your clothes and eyebrows
             peer into the fire
catch the smoke between your hands
melt the day’s thoughts and pour them into a new mould
make a mess of it and tie it together with string
set it in stone
               set it in motion
                            set too with gusto
                                            set it alight
For you are gripped
These things have a grip on you
The breath rocks on the table
It is sigh made flesh
and has whispered away the corners
The pot stands
hands on hips
lips pouting
              spouting steam
The chair smiles at me in the sunlight
Objects soak into the pores
The eucalyptus sinking into skin
The uranium glowing sickly green
The coal seam mixing with the blood stream
Metal – precious stone heart platinum
Palladium rhodium ruthenium
Milled in the ground through eons
                                        You are elemental
                                         far less reactive than I
You are a conduit    Help forge my identity
Give me lustre          and a strong core
I am but tinkering around the edges
with blunted pinking sheers and the tiny
tap tap tap of the jeweller’s hammer
Make me silver tongued
Give me purity and mass
                             grain and vein
I am yet to be bronze amber ivory jet
toadstone bogwood shell or coral
onyx brass or jade
Work the bobbin swifts and reeds
shuttles pick up sticks and temples
The winders rigid heddles
beating weft and keeping tension
Never breaking – I am splitting hairs
I am a body dogged
Woven from the earth’s threads
I am the filaments of fields – the filigree of grass
The toughest tufts clutching the dust
I emerge still singing
I take the matter into my hands – you
                 clay jute plastic rubber wood
I press my thumb into your belly
I have given you my name
and kissed you on the feet
But you have brought me to my knees
Have left your mark on me
You have given me my shape
                my breadth my depth
Have made for me my choice
                 When I fall silent
You speak with my voice

 Sarah Rice You - Matter

This poem written by Sarah Rice was commissioned by Red Room Poetry for the Australian Design Centre's Obsessed: Compelled to make.

Go to Sarah Rice's profile to read more poems