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Published May 2006Become a subscriber
for Joanne Currie
I haven’t really seen it, Caravaggio’s Death of…but the saint holds his neck with his right hand, his forehead with the left and it really is the dumbfoundedness of mourning. (He shows the Virgin dead. ‘Bonne Nuit, Judy Garland’ the papers in Montreal read.) They feel flogged by it, their grief, and I suppose it’s true no-one cares about propriety, anymore. (It’s already heretical that she has died, and no-one cares about her body, bloated and dishevelled.) It is her lack hung on a wall, but all I saw was coloured light. —— Gunmetal and lonesome blue. These words to describe the sky, July. I would have just said leaden – my mother through a telephone. Darkening I said, and it was there, too, a complicity in the sun’s stiff resolve to fall on its own sword before rising again. (The New, new Garland, the papers once heralded her.) Then it broke. You wished you were elsewhere (in the country you said) where the sky wasn’t stained. (You wanted to see the stars.) —— I always thought there was something sad in Judy’s smile and her diminished body, breasts bound playing little Dorothy. She arrived with her dad and the first neon sign in Lancaster, California, at the age of two and later sang Zing! went the strings of my heart to him through the radio a dutiful choked up electrified songbird as he died – spinal meningitis, diagnosed a few hours before the end. —— Before there were baths there were not baths. I was scalded by dirt and could string it out for days. Cleanliness came later, and unfledged anger, too. The dirt is something forgotten. Her #1 fan failed to record it in his shrine to her. It only records the hours that shine, he said. The dirt leaves a scar like your voice: do you have get here what are you so stop —— There should be something voluptuous, rubato and full-bodied. Something time could betray in a hiccup. Something with the froth of manicures and minor catastrophes. There should be more parts satin and purple. Lana’s nice, Judy said but talking to her is like talking to a beautiful vase. There should be a boozy clarinet. —— She only managed 68 pages of her life before she realised she’d rather die than set it all out. You once said the visible and the invisible imply each other. I’ve written lists, inventories, explanations, here they are. Twenty-three lines blank. —— I have a friend who plays flute as if it were a prelude to judgement. When she sees something beautiful she jumps and screams it’s so damn beautiful as though she’s going to cry because she can’t take it in, the blade of it. Judy’s scrapbook records the story of a girl bitten to death by black widow spiders nesting in her beehive hairdo, When the notes sound there is the scent of 3 a.m. hanging at their centre. When she cries she refers to the time
Kate Middleton’s collections with Giramondo are Fire Season, which won the Western Australian Premier’s Award for Poetry in 2009; Ephemeral Waters, which was shortlisted for the 2014 NSW Premier’s award for Poetry, and most recently Passage, published in 2017. Her new book, Television is forthcoming with Giramondo in February 2024.Read more