Autumn 2020, Lake Weeroona, Bendigo, Victoria, Australia
Three kilometres of asphalted track surround the lake.
In early hours, if you go clockwise, a morning sun will
warm your back. Go anti clockwise and you’ll squint
most of your way. About 80 people circle the lake today.
Only two need not squint. The slow mow down shufflers.
The not-so-slow press hard upon the slow. The quick
storm past anyone in front of them. They bunch close,
plague-friendly close. Tyranny of numbers forces the
two who walk clockwise off the track onto the verge.
Gasping, sweating, heaving, the mob shoves and elbows
for spurious advantage, eager to hunt a vanished dawn,
frantic not to be overtaken by a runner they cannot see
but have learned to fear from reputation, an athlete
who glides with the long, lazy stride of the gifted,
a player who reserves their best for the finish line.
The aberrant couple stroll into the unfolding day, yet
a while before the sun descends, perhaps there’ll be
other sunsets, more seasons for leaves to fall from these
oaks and elms and plane trees, many evenings to watch
the light drain from the day, until, none knows when,
comes a caress of the gentling blanket of enduring dark.
BN Oakman, formerly an academic economist, started writing poetry in 2006. His poems have been published in The Age, The Australian, The Canberra Times, Meanjin, Quadrant, Island, Antipodes (USA), Going Down Swinging, Mascara, Cordite, Tincture Journal, Australian Poetry Journal, Eureka Street, Acumen (UK), Poetry Monash, Famous Reporter, Arena Magazine, The Warwick Review (UK), Shot Glass Journal (USA), Best Australian Poems 2014 and 2015 and elsewhere. He has published two full length collections, In Defence of Hawaiian Shirts (IP 2010) and Second thoughts (IP 2014) plus two chapbooks. In 2016 the distinguished Australian actor John Flaus recorded 25 of his poems for a CD titled ‘What did I know? He has been a recipient of a grant from the Literature Board of the Australia Council. Second Thoughts was awarded best IP poetry book of 2014. He was a Pushcart Prize (USA) nominee in 2015.