About the Poem
About the poet
Andrew Johnston is the son of an English Professor, has had a successful career as a...
A subset of the whole, we gathered
in a corner of the architecture,
listening with a smile to the sound,
as heard inside the skull of the house,
of the train, or was it rain,
the sound of one enclosing the other
as much as we resembled each other
or Mother, or Father, we gathered
these thoughts unto ourselves. The rain
made an angle with the architecture
then followed the train. In the new house
the new math, then history: a sound
sleep interrupted by nightmares, the sound
of sirens. One day broke off from another
as years began to fill the house
with sharp unspoken things, a decade gathered
speed, inventing its own peculiar architecture.
Tiny disappointments fell like rain.
So it began: tuneless engine of the rain
cranked by the wind. The culture came to sound
us out, believing a kind of spiritual architecture
could solve our problems with space, the other
side of the coin. Where two or three are gathered:
someone stood holding the door of God’s house
while we delved in books for a porch to house
our doubts, a drought relieved by the physical rain
that fell inside our physical brains, and gathered
in pools in our limbs and glances. Did we sound
relieved, released into that other
garden, its blank leaves, its classical architecture?
Bob chose biology, Archibald architecture,
the body, the mind. A largely empty house
left behind to dream of other
journeys, Mother and Father and a rain
of reminiscence, an amber song. The sound
this made a soothing sound, we gathered.
As wind checked the architecture, a brother studied rain
falling on his own new house, and heard a familiar sound,
another family, as photographs and darkness gathered.
‘New House’, from How to Talk (Victoria University Press, 1993), © Andrew Johnston 1993, used by permission of the author. Recording from the Aotearoa New Zealand Poetry Sound Archives 2004, supplied by the Braeburn Studios.