Ian C. Smith’s’s work has been published in Antipodes, BBC Radio 4 Sounds, cordite, The Dalhousie Review, Griffith Review, Poetry Salzburg Review, Southword, & The Stony Thursday Book. His seventh book is wonder sadness madness joy, Ginninderra (Port Adelaide). He writes in the Gippsland Lakes area of Victoria, and on Flinders Island.
Immersing old aches in my steaming bath solving a giant crossword, I come across JFK and his PT boat, jacquescousteau plunging down, down, even a coracle, and a water-filled ditch surrounding a castle, but no sign of Shelley among fathomable opportunities. A lake in Whitman’s Passage to India? Tahoe seems more film noir.
I ignore my phone interrupting the affirmative Molly Bloom, like clues about writers, artists, characters, trying not to waterlog them. The Brontes are here, my glasses becoming a Haworth of fog. Scipio struts in from 202 BC, and I don’t flag, filling in an Aussie actor originally a comedian. Don Quixote is simple. Auden, Diaghilev, and Sylvia Plath, appear, then James Dean in the appropriate sized puzzle. Good old Vladimir and Estragon move me along, oddly. Bedevilled by dodgy memory, I am also abetted by Faust.
A clue about a mystery musicologist, moniker Ebenezer, drifts thoughts towards Christmas, and wonderfully obsolete names. Filling in Bolero its earworm threatens to unravel me. Soaring around the world in eighty minutes, Europa leads to Zagreb, but African capitals are a weakness. One tricky answer, extramural, could describe me. I almost splash the page again when Charybdis fits after I flounder, all at sea, brain whirling dizzyingly.
Like life, crossword difficulty eases somewhat towards the end, but is tough to complete. I know nothing about pinball machines, religious jurisdictions, or leaders of the Helvetians, stubborn unanswerables spelling failure. I biro in Femme fatale?’s answer, Bette Davis spot on about old age being no place for sissies. Were she alive, she would probably rasp a ready witticism about becoming a puzzle answer. Requiem seems a fitting end. Well, it’s your funeral, Mozart, I think, skin wrinkling. It was to begin with. If I am not cheating.
© Ian C. Smith