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RACHEL BUSH

Not seeing the lady from Spain

 

Lost is my quiet and the way through
High Street to the Buffalo Hall where
a travelling magician performs
tricks, sixpence for children, one shilling
for adults, at four this Thursday and
will saw, as he does every time,
his lady assistant from Spain in
half, then join her together again.
She’ll adjust her lace mantilla, smile
to us. She has sailed in a ship from Spain
to New Zealand, a long way, longer
than Regent Street past the teachers of
guitar and pianoforte notice,
and the Jolls’ place with its aviary.
Their cockatoo yells, Hello hello,
Who’s a pretty boy, past the manse and
the Methodist church. All welcome says
its sign. You can read. You turn into
High Street past the fruit shop where the man
comes from India (oh and the Spanish
lady will grasp her layered skirts, sweep them
up to one side, clap her heels against
the boards of the stage, bang bang bang) but
you are still here in High Street with bikes
cars and shoppers and Friday Watkins
with a cart of hay and his draught horse.
Such a settlement upon you of
loss, an ache for home because where is
the Buffalo Lodge Hall, you cannot
find it, and the lady in Hannahs
thinks it may be near the Maypole Stores,
but that could be the Masonics. So
where, and the where of it swallows you
until you know you will never see
the magician, his sleeves of coloured
scarves, his top hat of rabbits, and you
will never see the lady from Spain
halved and made whole again.

 

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