Claire Albrecht


in memory of murray bookchin

we sit in the anarchist’s living
room, the windows double glaze
he drops biscuit crumbs down
his chin and into his lap, chokes

a scarf tighter around the liver
spots on his neck and asks my
brother something like ‘what
do you think of all this,’

meaning 9/11, meaning unanticipated
descent and displaced impact,
gravity and entropy and jet fuel,
heat and falling and flying,

the eruption of airline meals and
miniature bottles of wine, startled
pigeons in their shit-filled sixteenth
storey roosts and starlings aghast,

the sound that oxygen masks make
when they drop, how tears transfer over
poor reception, abrupt ends to
teleconferences, armani suits in

motion, unfed dogs, letters lost
in concrete, flowers, flowers, dead
flowers, weeping on the breakfast
television news, ad breaks, closed

shutters, empty restaurants—
but, more than that,
I think he meant dread
and death, and dispossession,

and real, overwhelming terror, and
loss, and the haunting of spaces;
my brother is thirteen years old,
he has just discovered pornography (but

thinks that nobody knows) and he only
eats vegemite sandwiches, and now
more than ever before in his life
he is silent. outside, hands of pine

needles huddle together and point
to an answer hanging somewhere
in the crisp air, but his mouth is dry
and the weight of this man is somehow

emanating from the recliner and
overwhelming him. he puts down
his glass of juice and sighs. the room
is quiet but for the old man’s slouching

breaths, and the independent rustling of
untouched papers. he says nothing.
what can he say? our parents, visibly
struggling to pull him from this sinking

kayak, think it might be time for ben
and jerry’s. we stay with murray’s family
on lake champlain, comfortable warm
people on a frozen lake, healthy food

and rapid, erudite conversation
and I feel old at eleven, my period
a recent milestone discovered in bed-
sheets on a mango farm under scorpio.

when I steal their daughter’s journal and
read it (even though she trusts me
and I told her that I wouldn’t) I learn
what ‘betrayed’ looks like. we walk

together through a national park, the
name of which I no longer remember,
along striated cliffs, clinging to the edges
of my adolescence, playing out visions of

what it would be like just to drop
and be met by the water, and to sink
to the shipwrecks waiting below the
surface like monuments to memory.

every now and then, a plane in the corner
of the eye, white trails in a lake-coloured
sky make the heart jump, just a little, to
remember. it is spring in vermont


I never knew there were so many bald eagles in Alaska
I think, dropping popcorn onto my buttons

the trees are lit up with them. bald,
bald, bald, another one bald, and

last night I had a dream about a volcano
dripping purple flame, neon caramel

while I hid in a shaking house and waited
for extinction. not that Heise scared me much

but them polar bears sure are hungry
and it’s snowing in the summer in Tasmania

so I guess my nights are anxious like wildfire
I dip into the canyon to forget about the dark

Claire Albrecht is a Newcastle based poet. She was the 2019 Emerging Writers Festival fellow at the State Library of Victoria, and will be a resident at the Helene Wurlitzer Foundation, New Mexico in 2021. Claire will also be a Varuna ‘Writing Fire, Writing Drought’ fellow later this year. Her debut chapbook pinky swear was published in 2018.

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