Hall’s Gap, Easter, 1972

Ian C Smith

This could be a scene from an atmospheric film by Wim Wenders. Restive as a lunatic, I stride off down a rural road in the Grampians of south-eastern Australia at 3 a.m. alone, thinking this moonlit corridor to anywhere, absolutely still, the only sound my footsteps, nothing ahead, deserted. But, no, I am wrong. The road holds a surprise, as does my future, knowledge of which would have shocked me then when I never thought about the formation of memory; separation from my wife, children, asleep in our tent in the campground when I left, awake after a nearby drinking group finally quietened; the magical intercession of my late education, throes of anxiety salved by literature’s embrace; hundreds of hitch-hiked miles abroad (further adventures in a tent) airports, desolate wharves; a second wife, children again, a kind of peace yet not without regret; so many undreamt of events, and gnawed dreams realised, some good, but damage done, other experiences difficult to grasp at first, like the seeming apparition striding towards me, no vehicle sound since the campground, this mirror image of myself excepting the burden he bears, a weighted box, looming ever larger until we pass with no acknowledgment of the other’s existence, phantasms of the night, me heading into the future, him towards my past. I think I craved a rich life, laughter, tragic love, to feel the brawl of everything, but then, who doesn’t? How many of our thoughts are remembered when the hurly-burly is done? That long ago road so many miles back should still be there but I am changed. All changed.


About the Author

Ian C. Smith’s work has appeared in Amsterdam Quarterly, Antipodes, Cordite Poetry Review, Lowestoft Chronicle, Poetry New Zealand, Poetry Salzburg Review, Southerly, and Two Thirds North. His seventh book is wonder sadness madness joy, Ginninderra (Port Adelaide). He writes in the Gippsland Lakes area of Victoria and on Flinders Island, Tasmania.