Nights without George
Stratton Hall, Bondi

Nights without George
you pace the floor,
linger at the balustrade
alone as the moon
you lean towards
expectantly –
a lover’s face
cast up by sea
on cliff scarp
overlooking Bondi;
long-lost voyager
returning,
diver surfacing
with trophy…

Then your mind
runs wild on Bombo,
self-styled sea witch
lured to the city,
wondering
how others live,
wanting to be
the tallest poppy.

Now you reside
at Stratton Hall,
circumscribed
by a Juliet balcony’s
red-brick smirk
of Cupid’s bow,
from which you scan
the ageing moon
and visualise
the sandy arc of sorcery
somewhere below.

You shiver
in your hilltop crow’s-nest,
listen for a mermaid singing,
like the nights you lay
in Bombo’s gleaming arms,
star-baking silver;
hearing whimpers
from the nursery,
portents in the canopies
of banksias that turn their pewter-
bellied leaves in fitful breeze:
a Juliet who chafes
at domesticity,
at all constraint,
wondering why George
is working late;
no longer free, still lonely…

for Charmian Clift

Jena Woodhouse

*This poem is from a work in progress, The Book of Lost Addresses.
It also appears in fourW nineteen (2008), published by Charles Sturt University’s Booranga Writers Centre.

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