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On Norton Street

Kate Maxwell

I see Michelangelo arms

hung loose from open car windows

solid    firm    sienna-kissed

catching the fingers of god    or gravel.

                 Shadowed jaws thrust in time

to the bass boom beat

fading past the traffic lights.

                I used to live here

                in a paint-peeling semi

and the petrol station brothers

just a few doors up    called me, Katarina

when I’d rush in for milk    bread

               or chocolate bars    when there used to be

a petrol station   and a Polynesian nightclub

cross the street.    The fanciest restaurant

back then    now seems small

               and grey    even

its water fountain looks tired.

Now    buildings squeeze

              against each other

pushing to be    the brightest

most authentic    to the motherland.

              In the balcony-tiered Forum

we inhale alfresco smells    tomato

herbs    cheese    and coffee

persuading us we’re Vespa-scooting Romans

               rather than the smoky refugees

               from Parramatta Road.

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