The poem you are

by Elizabeth Trew

When you are in one of my poems
you are the wild child at my knee
the fearless youth, ebullient, strong
the gentle fugitive who ran away to work on farms
and somersault down glaciers
the prodigal who leaves and returns, leaves and returns
the traveler who drifts from place to place
in search of a dream. But you cannot sleep.

You arrive stricken and lonely at my door
on New Year’s day – barefoot,
for you gave your shoes
to a homeless man on the road.
I wish you stillness in the turning days.
I wish you could see in your darkness
your astonishing light,
the poem you are.

In Old Rangoon (1970)

by Cornelia Rohde

We squat on wooden stools outside crumbling
Scott’s Market, cupping steamy bowls of mohinga
from a street vendor: chunks of river shad,
lemon grass, tender core of banana stem, chili,
pungent shrimp paste, onions laced with rice noodles.

Shafts of light chase shadows from the open stalls.
I watch slanting sunrays burnish
the golden lacquer of a Hintha bird,
teasing glints from its faux-jeweled wings.

“The Hintha is said to eat only pearls. To us,
this bird means love and faith in marriage.”
His tapered fingers offer a slim green cheroot.
The taste is smooth and mild, as clement as his smile.

I savor soup and a smoke with him,
and bring a sacred swan to you.

Things I used to want

by Annette Snyckers

Some things I used to want
no longer thrill me —
like a clear pond with Koi flashing
in liquid shattered sun —
the fish are fat now and need
a sitter when we leave.

Or Egyptian geese,
a breeding pair,
in colour-coded feather jackets –
but here in great numbers,
they squawk and hoot
when l want to sleep.

Things I never dreamed of wanting
came uninvited –
a bushbaby with velvet coat,
who surveyed the dark
with big black mirror-eyes,
touched my face with clammy fingers
and fleeced my hair for fleas each night.

Some things I used to want
I do still want –
the animals who grin or purr
when I come home,
wag their tails or lick my hand –

Although you do nothing of the kind,
I do still want you too.

Lagoon

by Elizabeth Trew

Each drew new meaning from the waves’ collision.
Sea broke on land to full identity.
                                 Seamus Heaney, Lovers on Aran

 
The land rises and falls
battered by the hungry Atlantic
that mouths roughly along her shore.

Little by little the land gathers her strength.
Stepping into the waves she places her arm
into the sea to shield his blows.

Little by little her arm lengthens across his path.
He turns, flows softly into her channel,
her warm body yields to his gentle waves.

Land and sea join in the long afternoon.
She opens an eye, becomes a lagoon.

Was I happy?

by Angela Prew

A study has been published suggesting that 23 and 69 are the two happiest years.

Can I remember twenty-three? Just.
Was I happy? I don’t think so.
New marriage, husband at sea, family
on another continent, I remember
learning to be lonely, seldom happy.

Sixty-nine is easier to picture, nearer in time.
A year spent in euphoria;
snatched meetings, hushed phone calls, a new love;
alternating with misery;
a breaking marriage; forty years packed into boxes.

No, not sixty-nine but seventy
was the happiest year for me.

Tell Me the Truth

by Kerry Hammerton

What is this love that I am longing for?
Will it be like a shaft of light in a crowded
forest or a gentle rolling fog that blinds?

Will it hit me full force – pile me up
like a car wreck? Or gently ease me
out of my life, like a tide shucking a shell?

A shimmy on the horizon that never turns
into a mirage? Will come without warning?
Will the weatherman predict its arrival?

Will it be like an uncloaked sun
that turns me into dust and ashes?
A love so fierce that the open

secret of who I am will be hieroglyphed
forever on my face. I want a breathing
space for words to filter through,

a skylight for the rain to fall on,
a staircase to tumble up. I want
to be love-sick in love, stained with love.

Mirrored

by Angela Prew

Stepping out of the shower’s steam
I watch you,
razor in one hand, hairdryer in the other,
clearing the mirror;
your shadowy face, zigzagged with lines,
comes into view.

We bathed together long ago,
no need for razors then; two children,
fair head and dark head together,
splashing each other, laughing, laughing.
Our lives stretched straight ahead, no corners,
but potholes appeared, swallowed our youth,
and hairpin bends distorted the road.

Now that white-haired boy
is the white-haired man in the steamy mirror
and the end of that road is in sight.

The woman tree

by Liz Trew

She returns to her birthplace
a highgrove of trees in virgin forest,
carries her body to heal in her territory,

washes him away
bathes wounds on a soft plash of leaves,
soothes swollen cheeks and welts on her back
to nourish herself and love her language.

Down through the medicine trees
she gathers wild olive and weeping sage
her breath fragrant peppermint and sweet lichen gum,
seeds herself in the cool shed of earth,
mends her broken spine,
receives her lengthening body,
thorns to pierce his bitterness;
sways for her woman lover
knee-deep in ferns.

Not Love

by Kerry Hammerton

No. Not Love. It wasn’t like that.
Maybe desire. Maybe lust.
Truthfully, you were just
a memory of someone else:

he caught me, tangled me
up, I was intoxicated, bedazzled.
I fell in love. It wasn’t just one thing,
like the expression on his face when
he saw me (bemused), or the hardness
and softness of his lips, or the colour of his
eyes (murky pond brown), the ease he had
with people, the seedy side of his lust,
it wasn’t just the arrogant slant of his walk,
it was more that that, it was the belief
I had made everything all right.

But with you, it was the memory of him,
a sense of something familiar,
a ghost in your smile,
a hint in the way that you walked
the ease you had with people.
It was maybe lust. Maybe desire.

And then yesterday you were standing
just being yourself, and I realised
you are nothing like him,
and that I could no longer pretend
that I want to be
within this, always longing.
I want you gone,
but most of all I want him back.