Steve Evans has written or edited 20 books including Easy Money and Other Stories (2019) and Unearthly Pleasures (2021). Animal Instincts is due out in 2023. Evans directed the Creative Writing Program at Flinders University and now runs community writing workshops. He has won major literary prizes, and writes general adult fiction, modern romance, crime fiction, poetry and nonfiction.
WHAT WE KNOW ABOUT BUILDINGS
If they have a language, they keep it to themselves
or it’s beyond our capacity to hear.
If they know the making and unmaking of themselves,
they show no concern.
Every building is a song set to the music
of outside watching inside looking out.
I don’t trust a single one of them.
Buildings are a recent invention.
Soon we will refuse to use them.
Some we will burn, some let decay
and then forget what they were for.
We will sleep in the open under trees and stars,
and when we pass those brutal ruins
we’ll wonder who erected them, what
kind of people would
shut out the world that way.
Brave means stupid.
Edgy means unbuildable.
Wild means forget about
the remotest possibility
of getting this plan through.
This is not just about design
but your love affair with you.
The clouds look down in passing
at the little maps you’ve drawn
of harbours, train lines, streets
and towns. Their business is with
bigger stuff. Unfixed, a constant rivering
loose as talking in your sleep.
No one thought them up
or witched them into being.
Look at your plans again.
What do the clouds say about them?
What does the sky say?
The water? What does the
earth say now about where
and how we live?
It was the foldable type that came
in a small blue suitcase.
I got it for my birthday.
We took it everywhere
in case we grew bored
and wanted somewhere new to stay.
If we became lost in its creases,
and ironing them out was a pain,
it was still worth it.
One day we left it on a bench in
a bus-shelter by mistake
and it was gone when we returned.
We placed advertisements everywhere,
posted notices in the supermarket,
fretted at the phone’s stubborn silences.
Daisy once thought she heard it keening
across the night sky for us
but she’s only seven.
It came home two weeks later,
a battered thing on our doorstep,
missing part of an outer suburb.
We held it tight, promising never
to let go again, even though
we would never live there.