The Opposite of Cabbage

The Listeners
Rob A. Mackenzie
The thrill of the fair is not in the glamorous machinery
and its spin, or in the clamour of infants longing
to be heard, but in the hour when music stops
and lights blink out, when a man threads a dark path
among greyer darknesses of once-bright carousels,
and becomes, with them, a bearer of absence,
night’s counterpart, impossible to bring to focus.
The stars have plucked their eyes from the world,
which has become a mirror of blindness, blind
also to itself. Only the man’s uncertain steps alert
his listeners to its presence. So when they screw
open a cheap Cabernet and lose track halfway
through his walk from Waltzer to Big Wheel
and dawn spills out like an over-familiar friend,
they feel grief that the night is unrepeatable
as its secrets, as footsteps that leave no echo.
First published in Magma magazine and included
in The Opposite of Cabbage (Salt Publishing, 2009).
Read more about Rob and The Opposite of Cabbage here.
Visit Rob’s blog, Surroundings.

7 thoughts on “The Opposite of Cabbage

  1. johemmant

    I’ve read this poem three times now, over two days, and every time I’ve gone to comment, someone has called me or distracted me….I love it, it is packed with gorgeous lines, and the ending is utterly fantastic.

  2. Rob

    Jo and Julie – thanks very much for your comments. Much appreciated, and I’m glad you enjoyed the poem.

    Michelle, credit for the cover belongs entirely to Chris Hamilton-Emery of Salt. He designs nearly all the Salt covers and they’re always fantastic.

    Thanks again for featuring me on your site!

  3. Michelle Post author

    Hi Rob, I absolutely agree. Salt covers are wonderful – clever, colourful and imaginative.

    PS. Do you see Miley’s still waiting until marriage?

  4. Rob

    She seems to have finally disappeared from the ‘related post’ list. As Miley has only just turned 16, I guess her parents will be relieved she doesn’t plan to sleep around. How long that will last is another matter.

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