Joel Magareyís poetry has been published in Australian journals such as Meanjin, Quadrant, Redoubt and Hermes. He co-edited the online literary journal Overland Express.





Holy Rite

I am kneeling at the tabernacle
I am being blessed,
her palms upon my ears
and she is saying this is my body
and she is offering me the chalice
and she is saying this, the cup of my blood
and Iím putting my lips to the cup
and Iím drinking deep, deep, deep
and sheís breathing amen, amen, amen






Bedroom at four a.m.

Thickening darkness returns you
to an equilibrium:

one body at rest.
For love, too –

like light and motion –
ends when the energyís spent.

Until three, say,
you kept a nostalgic candle alight;

but as it burned lower,
a sigh put it out of its misery.

Now the darkness is pure –
you cannot see your own hand,

and that also seems right:
for you entered this blindness

by letting go of hers,
which guided you so long,

which taught you the Braille of bodies,
which stayed you when you would fall.

Balance
is again

the responsibility
of your legs.

So use them.
Get up.

Turn, and walk,
through the dense air, to the window:

through that chink will soon be leaking
impure, thin, colours.






Questions for Narcissus
(after Poussinís Echo and Narcissus)

Look away and what you love is nowhere.
                                                           – Ovid


Humans canít be meant to have
always suffered in this position:
he facing himself, she facing him – a visual echo,
forever fading from the background.

The foreground, like all of the grounds,
is taken: this owner has exercised his option
to occupy his inner lands exclusively.
Heís walled the boundaries, too,
and though he doesnít realise it
this means he wants to die alone.
Child of rivers, his own are drying fast.

Narcissus – canít you see her at all?
She holds out her beating heart toward you
like a struggling dove – her hands
bloodied in the suicide of love.
But you really cannot see;
for as you leant over the bank
that image picked the poolís lock
and floated up, free, attaching
to your pupils like a cataract. Now
your sight is dimmed: wholly unable
to punch through the shadow you cast on yourself.

Yet still she waits, bleeding hope,
somewhere at the back of you –
repeating your words, the only part she gets of you to keep.
She looks toward you but your head is bowed
as if the reflection has you lassoed around the neck
and is slowly beginning to pull you down.

Son of Cephissus: could you break that bond?
Do you think you could surprise us?
Could you struggle against the weight
of expectation? Against the stocks history puts us in
and the racks to which we chain ourselves?
Say you had another chance –
could you turn, Narcissus,
turn and face her?