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Vienna bronze

Michael Sariban |  13 March 2017


He's good as gold with loose papers — though

useless with open books, which have spine, and a mind

of their own; he fits neatly into the palm of my hand,

compact, and easy to clean.

An objet d'art when she found him — a gift from a

client, perhaps — he's slipped quietly into the afterlife

of a genuine antique.


He'd been a touchstone, a sacrament, almost,

for my Russian Orthodox mother —

an Arab barefoot on a rug, arms raised to the sky,

clearly praying, although on his feet —

and immensely dear to her heart. They had shared

not just their devotion, but disasters lived through

together — years of war that made other times

seem more than a little surreal.

He'd been a wordless diary, a constant presence

glowing with a soft, metallic sheen — mute witness to

survival, an emblem of personal space, a room

of her own when there'd been none.


When she fell, at last, out of this life, I caught him

as intended, solid as belief. I've had him facing

this way or that on a succession of desks —

eyes raised, palms turned to Mecca, his fixed

magnetic pole.

A Vienna bronze, perhaps 1920s, most likely

a Jewish workshop — a fusion of metals and cultures,

before Holocaust, West Bank or Gaza; a figure

in robes, on a small carpet, its yellows and reds

realistically creased, his sandals — suspended over

thin air at the edge of a tasselled fringe —

hinting slyly at flight. 


Aesthetics ranked high in her life — a second, earthly

religion — all the style she could afford in the world

her parents had fled to.

I weigh him in the palm of my hand, without

assigning a price — indisputably bronze, authentic,

unfazed by all the fakeries criss-crossing the globe.

Perhaps still listening to her, to the prayers he'd

overhear — a Muslim floating on Orthodox faith,

as her presence still hovers around him.


Michael SaribanMichael Sariban is a Brisbane poet and reviewer.


Michael Sariban

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Submitted comments

Wow. That is amazing, Michael. Gracefully written.

Pam 14 March 2017

Thank you, Michael, for the gift of this profound and lovely poem - a keepsake in itself.

Jena Woodhouse 15 March 2017

What a beautiful poem.

CHRIS WATSON 23 March 2017

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