Telescopes In The Square

by Graham Rowlands

Graham Rowlands

On Australia Day too. Good to see you.
Like to sit on the grass? Good view. Up.
Put your eye to the mouth of the flagon.
Yes, eye. Go on. That's all you have to do.
Let me see. Here's the green. I like green.
Good for banks, building co-ops, insurance companies.
That dark patch, though---sediment. Not the Stock Exchange.
Let's see. Here's the brown. Good old brown.
Turns whites a nice off-white, don't you think?
Come on, where's your sense of humour?
A white white? No. You're always off.
I always think brown makes it a certainty,
makes up for blacks who let us down---what
with their tans, beiges, nutmegs, milk chocolates.
Not that it's their fault---or their mothers.
Funny. A few of us used to be Honorary whites.
Then, with the vote---hey presto! We were whites
well, very off-white whites. Very off---in the boardrooms.
Try the brown? No? The clear glass, then?
A man after my own heart. Sorry. An in-joke.
Not actually after it anymore. The Times They Are...
Even the last of their tribes get buried now---
although 50 years ---or 200--- are a long time to
wait in formalin in the museum---for Land Rights.
Clear glass is for special occasions. Better than champagne.
Every year I take them in with a steady gaze---
the crisp red, black & yellows along King William.
It's a whole week. Not a week off, mind you.
Too much of an off week to be a good thing.
Follow the flags along to Government House. See?
Clear as a line on a map. Lines. An Empire.
I thought my B.A. was as far as we could go
but one of us top-hatted that a few years ago.
Governor. Too soon. Nearly killed the poor old bugger.
One of the early tribesmen around Port Phillip
had the right idea---said No to beads & mirrors.
It probably cost him all of the North Shore
but he wasn't going to be fobbed off with anything
less than a telescope. Far off, they looked
the off-whites in white uniforms under white sail
far off, to him---through the wrong end of the telescope.

Last updated November 09, 2018