Lorraine Marwood is a Five Islands press poet and has two children’s books of poetry published as well as a verse novel with Walker ‘Ratwhiskers and Me’. Her latest verse novel ‘Star Jumps’ will be released in June 2009. This novel really encompasses the influences of her poetry, the rural landscape and the surprising detail, all a way to celebrate life in words. Lorraine also writes poetry strategies and is available for workshops across all age levels. www.lorrainemarwood.com
Her pelargoniums, her little clucks of treasure
strong square ooze like catspray
fans of flowers like dragon wings
a wintering of wooden shelves
step laddering the back door alcove.
I came into her shuttered world,
I could call her grandmother.
She prodded, poked, admonished, preached
every word a lesson to decipher
a frost crunch world where shyness
was fashioned into stalactites that sharded
straight for heart.
She locked love up like Easter chocolate
turned pale with mothballs-
but here I offer
the sizzle of sausages
the sharing of her soft feathery
double bed, twin trunks up on the wardrobe top
a cold electric fire
and Grimm’s fairy tales
signed with love from Nanny
bought at EJ Brown’s bookshop.
I have blown to dandelion seed her love of words
not restrained them with dire consequences-
wood smoke and finches
arch over my back door
and a tiny skink lizard
races over the melted frost
I come into her sunlit world.
Salt Desert Donkey
We visited once on these salt desert plains
her wooden sixty year old house
only tree shade around,
desolation of farming inheritance.
She kept a donkey when all the other
farming wives kept chooks or ducks
or snails in their gardens.
She fed grey ears and braying,
softness in the salt-grit landscape.
The donkey moved around the periphery paddock,
looking down on a barbed wire garden,
stunted irises and under the tankstand
a scraggle of marguerites.
And in the autumn when paspallum reared like tiger snakes,
she mowed the measured square of her backyard lawn,
tossing the grey sleet of grass
into the donkey’s paddock.
Neighbours whispered about the
useless animal, its awkward shape
how salt eats more than pasture and trees,
laps at the very foundation of wooden houses
shearing sheds, windmills,
but this farmer’s
wife knows the seawater drink
of their gossip and reasons
that a donkey is future insurance
for salt desert trekking.
Between tractor lights
and the first tenting pegs of sky
he looks out to the night
with a scarf of cloud.
Stars trace the outline
of huge celestial tent,
incubator to his solitary thoughts.
It’s the one intense time of the year
when his temporal strand of humanity
feels the huge canopy of the unknown.
It’s not that he’s extraordinary,
he’s one of many; a time -worn
quantity of farmers out sowing the world’s
granary. It seems to him puny, slow,
awkward. The power of the tractor
sidles away to a cough. There above him
a star shoots, light cutting down through
the ridges of sky. He feels he could
put out his hand, squeeze the light’s shower
compress it like clay, tattoo his fingerprints,
but his reach is minuscule.
The fireworks spit and finish,
he turns the tractor and ploughs
another circumference of the paddock
he gulps in the night air,
believes he tastes stardust on his tongue.