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ASPECTS OF JANUARY, HALF PAST FOUR
Major decision, to cross
a road here or five paces
further. Wherever starting,
you step off on the left foot.
Major decision, to strike out now
or wait until all the traffic clears
from the right. Left, no vehicles
are in sight.
                     Major decisions,
required this p.m., four forty-five,
the January sweat bath augmenting
an ordinary need to choose,
once more to choose. Why is summer worst?
The will to act so called upon?
I make my choice not to apply
for another job in a cooler town.
In four, five, six days the letter
is written; signed; mailed.
You move as must, step by step.
                     Major decision
at Port Jackson soon after sunup,
the Barrier’s south-looking face
an eggshelf bluff, long shadow
smoothing out the bay, no fires within
the camp. Heifers, calves and steers
cropped softly (even seas barely touched
the shingle) where choice came easy,
merely to be still, or move
only cautious step by step
while paired wrybill darted
and a single dotterel rode down
scale on his cry, making a choice
for landing,
                  a clear-lined intention
in natural, most persuasive, grace.
His act of will was burnished on a wave.
                                                                    11. 1. 68
Editor's note
Aspects of January, Half Past Four: first published in Poetry Australia 21 (1968), 22; Port Jackson is near the tip of Coromandel Peninsula, looking out to Great Barrier Island.
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