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Outback Bowser, 1970: new poem in Westerly 64, 1

‘Listen to the Stories Woven Around us,’ by Brooke Collins-Gearing. Cover image

It’s a great honour to be included in the most recent issue of Westerly. This poem takes me back to my own childhood, to long trips to Queensland up inland New South Wales roads – and the figure of my beloved father, always and still just at the periphery of my vision.

Thrilled to be in Plumwood Mountain 6,2 Intersecting Energies

A bit of a bonanza for me in this edition of Plumwood Mountain, thanks to Managing Editor the indefatigable Anne Elvey

My review of Louise Crisp’s beautiful, many-layered walk through different country.
My poem on Mount Elephant/Djerrinallum
A privilege to also review Judith Beveridge’s new collection – familiar friends and new poems

The Sky Falls Down Melbourne Launch

I was thrilled to be part of the amazing collection, The Sky Falls Down: An Anthology of Loss (Ginninderra Press), edited and lovingly curated by Terry Whitebeach and Gina Mercer. It was launched yesterday in Melbourne by Carrie Tiffany (having already been launched in Hobart).

The book is available through Ginninderra Press or at Readings in Hawthorn, where it was launched.

As Mary Oliver put it, ‘Loss is the great lesson:’ if we’re going to be open to loving we need to learn how to be open to and manage loss. The diverse contributions in this Anthology I think are all ways of struggling with this great lesson of being human.

My contribution was a poem about the ongoing experience of loss – written on the five year anniversary of the death of my father:

 Five years and still
 
Five years –
and still there are days when
I want to pick up the phone and
call you;
time seeps by,
and though grief
          loosens its cruelest hooks
I remain bereft,
perplexed –
where are you?
 
Are you still sitting at your computer
tapping out the stories of your life –
          the boy in the Queensland bush,
                     the young man stationed
in Darwin,
poring over radar?
 
Or will I see you
coming into the kitchen –
          a cup of tea in the offing –
joining us around the table,
the arc of your arms
still
wiry and strong?
 
And if I could get a line
          through to you –
what would I say?
The children are growing,
beautiful,
I left my job,
the old cracks in the family
widen and groan like
lathe and plaster in the drought –
I admit we are all
          diminished
without you.
 
Most of all,
unreconciled,
I would ask you to
come home –
it’s enough now,
please
come back –
 
And here it is again:
the persistence of that old,
 mad dream of
restoration,
when the patience of mourning,
the gratitude
for all the rich
          love you left amongst us –
gives way
to the shocking
need for the miracle:
the past
                     intact and
cupped
in the broad palms of your sun-tanned hands.
 

Women, Work and Wandering Poetry Reading

I had great fun on the weekend reading at this festival event: thanks to a wonderful and receptive audience for making this such a enriching experience.

Here I am -in black and white and in colour – reading amongst some of the terrific art works!

I think maybe the most enthusiastically received poem was ‘Clothesline’ – a poem that comes from my book, Even in the Dark (UWAP 2013). It’s a little window both into the pleasures of doing laundry and the possibilities for that interstitial moment , when we see the ordinary in a different way:

Clothesline

To walk between the brightly coloured flags

of washing –

to gently stroke the fall

of drying fabric,

rearranging peg and angle

so that every fold

might find the fullness of the summer air;

to smell the hard-won clarity of

cotton,                 

rising crisp and warm in the sun –

is to find a sweet hiatus in the day,

a moment

in the linearity of task and achievement  –

in case you’re wondering,

this is not masochism,

or some throwback to the rigidity

of ancient roles:

instead, listen –

a faint hum amongst the tomato plants and

the marigolds and

it is possible to hear this

humble poetry of the backyard,

this ceremony of daily love –

gathering, sorting,

washing,

ready –

for the rich harvest of the basket.