Apology

Today I sat with coffee and newspaper
through the lunch hour
trying to catch up with the whole world’s tragedy.
Over the weekend was the calmest, coldest Sunday
for lunatics with guns, and there are six dead.
Monday all the wounded, the heroes, the neighbours,
the journalists, the dogs and cats,
have interviewed each other.
But today I was not living in a real world
and I must apologise for this.
For this one hour, when I was not working and distracted,
with time to think how life is,
I remembered Figaro and Susanna, Cherubino’s love songs,
and hummed Mozart, hummed through blood
and black banners which came off on my hands.
Last night one fine lover pushed pain aside
and held me still—the best duet, the friendliest, and quietest.
So, I’m sorry, today the world
was not in the least bit tragic, not even a little sad.
I could not cry for any pain.
Happiness has hardened me against all sorrow.

Originally published as part of War poems: for baritone voice, alto sax, cello, vibraphone and piano, performed by Grant Smith. Composer: Andrée Greenwell. An OzOpera production at the Melbourne Opera Centre, 10 and 11 September 1999, and at the Barossa Music Festival on Sunday 3 October 1999.