Petra White

Petra White

Journal in October

London 2020


Under the stream of voices
flying along the scalp like a parting –
you pass from night to night,
your sleep a vanishing.
Who needs a dream but to step
across death’s greyest river,
the day’s factory of small thoughts.


Skerricks on the carpet, the cat
chewing dust, child’s green slippers,
piles of coats on the couch.
The pot plant abundant, like a brain
full of fresh thought, after coffee.
The apartment you rarely leave, its walls
riddled with your gazes,
how will they sleep
when your traces are removed?


Exhausting inexhaustible
the sleep-strained eyes seeing as far as they can,
each day an ode to her,
the blonde child running.
How she stamps on us, springs in us, until there is no until.
Our frailty a living thing, fierce in the blood,
in money, chicken, love.
Her countless clothes daily washed and folded,
in soft, teetering towers.


You take off my nose
and place it on the pillow for tomorrow.
So night gently takes day,
and puts it in nana’s garden
that she might send it back watered.
Because of the naughty virus
no swimming or ballet or farms,
hand sanitiser in her pocket.
She grows and laughs,
finds language as if it was waiting for her,
puts on her own coat, zips it up.
Little flower hardy as the moon,
we cannot take our eyes off her –
little flower in the soil of our souls,
the blighting wind and sky.


He lifts the human weight of dust
from every corner, repositories of thought squirrelled out.
You step into the white room
like a woman into a river,
body clean as a fish.
You will make everything filthy again,
in the squalor of an existence,
your skin cells
producing reams of poetry.


Heavy snow sky, delicate
flutter of bright leaves, dense silence of the self.
This life exactly as it is,
no reality alternate, though there exist
eternities with long crystal teeth
that sink into days.
You stand in the new apartment, in the new city,
inexorable breath, audible,
the agent’s pen in slow-motion.


Language tugs at the tongue,
clouds of words hungry to be reborn –
in the sludge of seconds,
in the faltering eye
you write something down.
Your name floating on a stream,
something caught in reeds and branches,
what you think of as yours.
Instantly it vanishes, leaving traces.

PETRA WHITE is an Australian poet currently living in Berlin. She has published four collections of poetry, most recently Reading for a Quiet Morning.