Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Anna Couani Glebe poem #3 the old mansion

the first place I lived in Glebe in the 70's
was a couple of rented rooms
in a crumbling waterfront mansion
a bay window in a big room
overlooking The Harbour Lighterage Company
with their fleet of tugboats
that chugged home in the evening
twinkling lights under the stars
an industrial scene in miniature 
with their cranes and slip rails

I remember my parents
mother shedding a tear
at the state of the walls
that she would become immune to 
after visiting so many more of the same
down the years
vintage Glebe

the land sloped all the way to the water
without a fence
at the water's edge in the shallows
was a small beach
and walking into the water
the brown mud squelched between your toes
seemed saturated with grease
embedded with shards of civilisation
sharp things

today the waterfront walk has claimed a slice
of waterfront land
from the end of the bay winding around
to the busy highway
beautifully landscaped Council initiative 

I stand at the water looking up at the old mansion
at its bay window
at the still unpainted derelict walls
just as they were 45 years ago

now the slope to the water
once dry and bare 
is jungle

the big Harbour Lighterage crane
now an arch over the path
historical remnant


  1. I really like all the specific details in the poem and the description of both how the place used to be, and what it's like now. I feel an undercurrent of loss in the poem, but it's subtle and well-managed.

  2. The walls really haunt me in this, like a revelation. The whole poem feels like a map, and the walls a still point in time and place. The mother's initial tears about the wall really move me, so much more going on.

  3. I sense a kind of pre-heritage insight hete to what is more and more viewed now as a 'true heritage' precinct. Somehow Glebe and other old inner city elements have only arrived very slowly to the heritage table.
    Perhaps because areas like these are too-well lived in and those walls too 'lived with' to be sent straight to the Pool Room. Rather they arrive very gradually and with that, all the more richer and layered.
    I imagine a working class heritage ideal that is less noticed and somehow kept secret for longer in all cities.

  4. Thanks to Sarah and Jeffree, I'm so glad that you've picked up on those elements. I'm preoccuoied with the hidden history and the architectural heritage of Glebe, so it's good that these things are becoming evident.