Chloe's Bar, Melbourne
She might have been the muse of what will be –
a girl more used to the streets of Paris
who is on display, naked,
in this faded downtown bar.
Beyond the approval or dismay
of the men who built a gold rush city,
she has turned to face those distances
the enlisted could not see
who came to drink a few last beers and gaze
before embarking overseas
to Africa or Asia. Retaining the image
of her slight breasts, her unobtrusive sex,
would they have known
like some of them that she too died early,
concocting her death
from crushed heads of matches –
her twenty years like pages
from a windblown novelette?
David Cooke won a Gregory Award in 1977 and is published in the UK, Ireland and beyond. His collection, Work Horses, was published in 2012 by Ward Wood. A Murmuration, will be published by Two Rivers Press in 2015.