new zealand electronic poetry centre

Michael Harlow

online works


The Dark Twin

His hands a steeple of prayer.
A devout man in his disbelief
my father confessed he’d hardly
heard a sane sound getting
through in years. It’s the iron
has entered my heart, he says

And he shows me how the razor
goes floating up and down,
stroking the curve of his throat.
He remembers when they came,
the men from darkness, sealing
off the town, working through
the night to blackwash the windows
of the white houses; uprooting
grove after olive grove of ancient
trees, their bleeding stumps

And then, the electric shock
their sleek machine. They
have sacked my head and plucked
out all the letters of the alphabet,
he says, looking back to a world
of falling trees and broken statues
He knows he is only a visitor

And now, inside the mirror,
as if for the first time, he sees
himself – his dark twin: perched
on his shoulder the bird
who never sings, wholly
sincere in its silence.



From Cassandra’s Daughter (Auckland UP, 2005)
Michael Harlow

Last updated 24 March, 2005