Poetry: Bubbler | clivejames.com
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A lifetime onward, I know now the bubbler
In the school playground said things in my ear
As I soaked up the coolness with pursed lips.
“Bellerophon, framed by rejected Antea,
Has slain the Chimaera.”

I was too young to know these whispering
Refreshments were the classic voice of time
Drenching the world. But it got into me
Somehow, and when I wiped my mouth and chin
My lips were tingling with the urge to speak.

The bubblers, a generation later
Fed girls of Asian origin with the rush
Of ancient love-talk as they stood tiptoe,
Their cheeks awash. “The coolness of the night:
It penetrates my screen of sheer brushed silk
And chills my pillow, making cold the jade.”

Remember the brass guard to stop your kiss
Short of the dribbling bulb?
Yes, and I remember Aphrodite
Fresh from the bath, as the maths star Pam Yao Ming —
Who married an insurance man in Cabramatta —
Remembers the Shang Dynasty.

Note (from Collected Poems)

For the conferring of an honorary doctorate from Sydney University, I was asked to give an address, and while speaking with apparent fluency I was still recovering from the impact of having found that almost every graduating student sitting there politely in the Great Hall was of Asian origin. Pam Yao Ming, the maths whizz in my poem, was probably one of them.