foam:e
Index of poets

Name

 

David Bircumshaw
Pam Brown
Jill Chan
Jen Crawford
AnnMarie Eldon
Claire Gaskin
Jeff Harrison
Jill Jones
Mark Kanak
Christopher Kelen
Corinne Lee
Cassie Lewis
Lizz Murphy
Sheila E Murphy
Alaric Sumner
Louise Waller
Mark Young

Renga -
  Andrew Burke,
  Jen Crawford,
  Louise Waller,
  Lawrence Upton,
  Kristin Hannaford,
  Jennifer Compton,
  Heather Matthew,
  Jill Jones
  Alison Croggon

The Gift

Our child draws the sun: circle, two dots for eyes
and the bend of smile he extends, and extends
until it is no longer a bend but an inner circle,
eyes obliterated by the mouth that becomes a whole
from which the first shell falls.
All day light peels down like pencil shavings;
even the crooks of his grubby fingers gleam.
Soon I hear him feeding pennies
to an ancient, hungry toy. The melody is sheared
by the squeal of ball in socket;
the clank of iron arm against an iron breast
speaks the hollow, ringing night that he was made -
sticks and dust. You loved a painting of hounds and wheels
and foaming horses, so sought its ghost
in what he scratched into the earth, and found
a blank geometry; repetitions laying claim
to dry fields, as though they went on forever
and he could write them all.
And how I loved a songbird
as it rippled my favourite line to death,
dissolved the links between the notes
until they fell like unstrung beads
and my fingers misread keys into
a tune I did not know. Is that the gift?

Yet we'd meant him
as the stone-drop at our centre
that he'd make sense of how
these circles thin and fade...

 

Exemptions

My mother was bold with death -
made herself perfectly clear -
stood on the corner and twitched at her skirt
while that smirking john drove past again;
and when she came home she'd smooth
but never lie - we knew how her heart
beat and her blood slowed as that car
slowed and all the white stars turned...

Once home, the romance dressed
as a death of romance. In the freezer,
food and science rubbed humble,
glad-wrapped shoulders:
lamb with a parcel of lab-rats,
carrots against the perfect corpse
of a gannet, saved to stuff and study
when she found the perfect time -

but 'if it's broken,' she'd say, 'chuck it out.'
Not for her the cupboards full
of handleless cups and shoes without heels;
she had a warm respect for the farmer's gun,
and a horror of what goes on
behind institutional walls.
Amniocentesis was a cinch,
though there was a story that paled her:

looking again for exemptions
we'd have her tell of coming home
to find a perfect egg of ash
in the saucepan on the stove.
It collapsed at one touch -  
the jerk of her fingers on the element knob.
We loved, as she spoke,
her soft, claiming frown,

the way it remained
even as she lowered her eyes
from our kitchen ceiling,
its small print of smoke

 

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