Remembering Zora Cross, the Love Poet of Queensland

Harry Cummins

A large house across the road was being renovated by a foreign doctor.
Aboriginals had lived there.
The workmen burned the shabby reminders of their stay on a
    great bonfire and replaced them with all kinds of olde worlde
    beauty.
There were plaster Virgins for the gate posts, two new gates
    both faced with lyres.
There was an expensively-dressed woman who looked cheap.
Ruritanian breeds of pet, which, like the woman, seemed on hire
From some strange warehouse, and from some pained sense of duty.
There were busts of William Shakespeare, who is deep.

On several occasions before he moved in, the doctor dropped
    in to do a little handiwork himself.
He’d arrive on a bright, metallic-coloured motor-bike.
It looked like the thorax and abdomen of an insect that had
      somehow stung itself.
His head was small; an insect’s head, all bite.

He was a youngish man. His face was somewhat crowded by his features.
He had gentle features and longish hair.
Once, I saw him in his expensive clothes, gently retrieving
    one of his tiny, pretentious cats from under the wheels of
    his motor-bike.
I’d notice how he loved the open air.

Then, no matter how cool or grey it was, he’d always strip
    to the waist.
His torso was in violent contrast to his delicate head and clothes.
It was too large for his head, sexual, and lightly sculpted.
Dark hair swarmed in the swerves and creases of the skin;
Dark hair that looked even more violent because the skin
    itself was so white.
It looked like someone’s filling with that straggling
      darkness in;
Like buttered damper spread with vegemite.

To me, the fact that his face was gentle and refined while
    his body was swarthy, was erotic.
To me, the fact that his mood was gentle while his body was
    uncouth, was erotic.
To me, the fact that he was snobbish while his body was
    tattooed and hirsute, was erotic.
To me, the fact that he had the same body in hot weather as
    he had when it was grey was also erotic, erotic and sad.
To his girlfriend, that body was a normal thing; it wasn’t
    kind, quixotic.
Desire. To have what she had never had.