The Alcohol in a Bar Room Mirror

John Millet

Clyde Bauer draws the picture of a bar room at 10 PM, almost deserted, at the wrong end of downtown Sydney.
An old man sits on a stool.
A barman with a German accent
polishes the empty world in a whiskey glass, measures the amnesia left in a gin bottle, counts silver coins as if they were time. shines the mirror that reflects life as it is.
The old man on the stool is Clyde Bauer.
He empties his eyes, pours the infinity of the past into the mirror - Another country -
Jet planes with spirals of stars above their wings. A bar towel covers the blank page of a Daquerire.
There are two people - 1953 -
One, a female migrant from a camp Dachau, Buchenwald, Niedenhagen, Gusen. She is thin from tortures she witnessed,
still feels them in small capillaries
at the end of medical experiments. A brother. A father she will not remember again.
The rough blue language of the numbers on her wrist will never be erased.
The other, a young man,
is closing a diary of enemies, World War II,
a flight-log full of air raids, bombs, Hamburg, Frankfurt, Dresden, ack-ack, machine guns. They are married and one child is the silence between questions never asked,
answers never gIven.

He kisses the numbers that brutalise her arm,
closes her brown eyes on the barbed wire of memory, looks through a window
she fondled with sleeping pills.
She died a long time ago,
took with her Auschwitz, smells of fear, oven smoke.
When the numbers on her arm were added up they came to two and half million.
It is closing time. The lights on the mirror switch ofT. The old man
follows the memories of bomber squadrons into the streets.
Later he shuts the door to a small apartment,
draws blinds on a window
to stop the nightsky straying into the bedroom.
The barman turns the key on his own lifesoftly, so that no one will hear.

Page 13, Poetry Ireland Review Issue 26