When I got up that Tuesday morning there were two emails from S. The first, sent at 5 am, had the subject line: Dad is going. The second, two hours later, said: Dad is gone. I called her. Then called a few other people. You have to, even though all you have to tell them is the non-existence, the absence, of the person you are calling about. The loss of connective tissue perhaps, that a phone call might somehow rehabilitate. Afterwards I sat down to write as usual and accomplished my 1000 words or so though I am unable to say if, that day, the game was worth the candle. Or any other day for that matter. I guess I felt like I didn’t know what I was feeling like. Come 2.15 I put on a clean blue shirt and went out to work. I remember joking with Bob, my boss, as if everything was normal. He was telling me that, since it was Tuesday, I had to wash my car that night; I was saying, when have I ever not done what you tell me to? Answer: frequently; hence we both laughed. Well it was a shift from hell. Two skinny fares and there I was again, outside the Tea Gardens Hotel in Bondi Junction with nary a soul in sight. It’s a very long time since I allowed myself to write a poem and I have never before written one on a mobile phone but this came unbidden: soft foot falls on the / clouds above the / cloud : the velvet / horses are returning to / their wingèd stables // great liquid eyes & / plaited manes & / coats of plush infinitude / part the wind as if it were / a memory of wind // riderless they follow / your dreams across a / pleroma of blue towards / the sleep that will awake / beneath another sky I called it Lullaby and dedicated it to M but when it was done wondered if it wasn’t for DJ? Who can say? I finally got a fare, it was a couple of business people going into the city, it took a long time and after I dropped them off it was rush hour and I spent half an hour inching down George Street to the Park Street rank and then ages there too, waiting. It was a young American woman, cheerful and positive, who was going down to the Block in Redfern to look at a work she had produced in her capacity as an art facilitator for the council. That was a slow trip too, nightmarish traffic, a dark cold city, a sense of terminal confusion, and it was while we were making it, while distractedly talking to her, that I realised, slowly, almostly numbly, that I couldn’t do this job any more. We turned from Abercrombie into Caroline, just a couple of streets from where I first lived in Sydney, from where, back in 1981, I first went out to drive a taxi; and there, festooning the long row of upper balconies, were delicate arrangements of fairy lights spelling out words: LUCKY JOY SUGAR RESPECT are four that I remember. The American girl cried out that it was wonderful and it was; enough to bring a tear to the eye. She paid with a card and went and I headed back to the city. It was somewhere down Regent Street that I called Bob and said my friend had died and that I was going home. He shouted down the phone: You still have to pay! The $150 owing for the shift he meant. I hung up on him. Drove around for another ten minutes or so then gave it up as a bad job. On the way back to the base, in Stanmore, I got a hail and took her up to Marrickville. She was hooded, vacant, a migrant and she got out somewhere that she didn’t wish to be because the meter was showing more than she wanted to pay. Back at the base I filled up, shut down the various systems on the car – meter, EFTPOS, kill switch – then went in to pay and return the keys. Walking to my own car I called Bob to apologise for hanging up on him and to reassure him that the car was secure. Then I went home. I felt so strange. So alienated. So alien. Like someone who wasn’t there any more. But I wasn’t dead. I remembered it was the shortest day, the longest night; I lay awake for most of it. Around the time the birds began to sing I heard a voice that said: o yeah. / & / A FINE RAIN BEGINS T’FALL.