Poems by Keri Glastonbury

Queen of the Hills

for Sarah-Jane Norman

You would like it here, a wet dream of alpine anachronism. I
can just imagine Tim in phenomenological paroxysms; the
red of his hair like a real fox, not the local henna. All I do is
walk up and down the mountain each day, while the
“coolies” carry fridges. Sometimes a young drug dealer
walks beside me whispering “fucky, fucky?” and rubbing his
nipple. Schoolgirls also grab my hands and speak with such
grandiloquent diction that I feel I’m in some Bollywood
Sound of Music. I’ve learnt not to be so picky about fruit and
eat bananas with skins that are almost black, though I still
buy more than I eat and just watched the persimmons rot.
Out my window are neo-gothic housing blocks with turrets
and views of the valley. Up on The Mall you can see snow
capped peaks, even the sublime now haunted by ecological
horror. You’ve beaten me to the Katoomba equivalent and
your mum will be spreading her Pakistani rugs on those
floors. Residencies are also a bit of a durational
performance, warped as colonialism and wood panelling.
Let’s start a new genre romance sans Sahib. I would take you
to the chai and sweets shop downstairs where we’d sit
wrapped in fine pashminas: chapped lips, nose bleeds, but
breathing like never before.



for Jane Shadbolt

You have been my ghost lover, my erstwhile companion as I
walk through the conifers; the ferns making me think of the
Dandenongs writ large and the single gauge tracks a steam
train ride I went on as a kid. Yes, I should be here waiting
for you constructing pinhole cameras and experimenting
with optical effects, if not spirit photography. I’m living out
the mise en scene for a live stop-motion animation, a
disconcerting syncopation making me glide up the hill. The
“Boom Shiva” buses ply around blind corners, with women
in saris spewing out the window. The monkeys have
abscessed arses, but the langurs fly from branch to branch
with aplomb. A stray dog takes a fancy to my crotch and I
have to shoo it away. The campus is in a stone building
haunted by European orphan girls at their sewing machines.
All these nineteenth century institutions squirreled away in
mountains — I can imagine Dario Argento really getting his
rocks off. Or perhaps this is to be a romance; I’ll meet you at
the station in my salwar suit, my scarf on backwards trailing
behind. But, for now, I sit alone in The Park Café, slowly
sipping masala chai and listening to the best collection of
cassettes I’ve seen in decades. The Mahavishnu Orchestra or
is it Jethro Tull? Both will make it on the soundtrack, or the
mix tape’s hand-written insert.