David Brooks is the author of five collections of poetry, three of short fiction, four highly acclaimed novels, and a major work of Australian literary history, The Sons of Clovis (UQP, 2011). His The Book of Sei (1985) was heralded as the most impressive debut in Australian short fiction since Peter Carey’s, and his second novel, The Fern Tattoo (UQP, 2007), was short-listed for the Miles Franklin award. The Sydney Morning Herald called his previous collection of poetry, The Balcony (UQP, 2008) ‘an electric performance’. Until 2013, he taught Australian Literature at the University of Sydney, where he was also the foundation director of the graduate writing program. He is currently co-editor of literary journal Southerly, lives in the Blue Mountains of New South Wales, and spends several months each year in a village on the coast of Slovenia. His most recent collection of poetry is Open House (UQP, 2015).
An Invasion of Clouds
My study has just been invaded by clouds
each smelling vaguely of lanolin and urine,
soft-eyed, wet nosed, curious-tongued,
come to inspect my books and papers,
like tax collectors for the invisible
or auditors from the ineffable earth
trying to determine how I waste my time.
Their leader, the unicorn, wants to taste
the volume of poems in my lap, while another
makes for the unfiled bills, the third
stares at the ancient aquatint
of my great-grandmother in her wedding-dress,
and the fourth, the black one, turning his back,
slowly and sensually rubs his behind
on the literary theory section of the bookshelf.
Following the others out,
he pauses at the door-frame for a final scratch
then pees with pleasure on the just-washed floor.
Midnight, and out of nowhere
a giant hornet
worrying the window-frame,
two red moths
dozing under the desklamp-shade
and a bright green scarab
clambering over the stale bread; outside
a purple moon
rising over Nova Vas, the Great
Bear and her cub so
visible last night
now hidden by cloud, or should that be
mist, in the Vast Forest?
Somewhere a priest
worrying a fragment of a leaf.
Somewhere an ant
wrestling with her God.
Somewhere another Earth.