Tag Archives: summer

winter melts

Winter lies sadly melting in the sink.
An ice-blue sky reduced to an anonymous puddle
in a plastic zip-lock bag.
And for what?
To make way for bargain priced minced meat.
“I’m sorry” I say to the little one,
who just shrugs.
And for a moment I consider telling her:
“It remembers what it was. Water remembers.”
But I do not say it,
because she is not so little anymore,
and would just roll her eyes and say “muuummm”
at such sappy Disney bullshit.
She accepts that snow must make way
for ‘reduced to clear’ minced meat.
And I am sorry for that.

Written for the dVerse prompt “poetics: the blizzard of the self“, to write a poem about winter. I used a bit of poetic licence here, it was actually a bag of hailstones rather than snow that was taken out of the freezer a while ago to make space for ‘reduced to clear’ meat. But snow somehow fitted better with the broader theme than giant hailstones which are themselves due to climate change.


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1200 December 14th, Goulburn railway bridge

Paint a primary-coloured afternoon:
green, green trees –
not the dull yellow-grey-khaki of eucalypts
but the bright clear greens of picture-book trees.
Dab them with circles of pink and yellow,
to make a thousand tiny plums like Christmas baubles.
Add a sweep of black road
rising in a hump over a railway line,
don’t forget the white lines emphasising the curve.
Now fill in the sky,
just blue, and more blue, and more
until the page is so saturated
it cannot hold any more.
Finish with some fine details:
a pair of train-spotters with their cameras
leaning on the bridge railing, waiting.
Now, save this picture:
fill a bag with blue and green, pink and yellow,
sweet-tart, glossy-smooth but dusty from a passing train,
take it home and pour it into jars,
and add them to the pantry-album of summer afternoons.


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1500 January 9th, sans ‘sunroof’

Swooping between potholes
we fly through yellowing green fields,
every window down to let the sky in.
Its blue-heat rushes through the car
drying chlorine scented hair,
sun-streaked and tangled.
Making up the words as we go
we create a soundtrack
with help from the radio.
Hands tap along on window-sills,
summer-browned against dirty white duco,
as we travel home
a plume of yellow dust
following like a parade.


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1100 3rd January, Goulburn pool

Blue above, blue below
(although different;
cobalt above, turquoise below)
following my rippling shadow one way,
(so at least I assume)
being followed by it in return
in a
(so I imagine/hope/pretend)
dignified and stately breast-stroke –
how the queen, perhaps,
would proceed down the pool.
(Although that shadow below
could well belong to a matronly bullfrog.
The queen would have had it removed).

Head above water
I can perform my maternal vigilance –
two are playing,
one is swimming towards me,
in his own variation on the Australian crawl
(“the boy is angry at the water”).

A row of ducks
(without my spectacles,
this is an educated guess)
proceeds in state along the edge.
Children, laughing, encourage them in,
but the lifeguard shoos them away,
unlike the children,
(although more likely they just don’t care)
that the reality of swimming with ducks
involves duck shit in the pool.


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1300, 1st January

We have performed the last rites
on a year that had worn out its welcome:
We have cut a branch and decked it,
lit the candles and watched them burn
and given thanks that we are all still here.
We have made our offerings,
sweets for our lady of Calvary
whose help we pray we will not need.
We have observed the cleansing of the sky with fire
from a pleasant hill, once host
to untimely death – a fitting place
to end a year quartered by death.
We have scented ourselves, our home,
with sweet lavender, stolen in darkness,
to be sewn into bags with seeds
for the new year’s happier dreams.
We have cried the tears that needed to be shed
to cleanse our spirits of this cruel year
and then we have cast it out, thrown it
into the fire pit with the branch
stripped of its glitter and baubles
where it can lie disregarded, shedding its needles,
until it is nothing but a bare scaly skeleton.
And then we will watch it burn.

My Latvian grandmother once told me that on new year’s day you have to throw out the Christmas tree and then burn it, to get rid of the ghost of the old year. In Australia we can’t do that because it’s bushfire season and fires are illegal. Which is a bit of a disappointment, given what a year it’s been, dogged by deaths. But we have all our other rituals – we take several large boxes of chocolates into the Calvary ED staff in the hope we won’t see them for another year, watch the family fireworks and steal a huge bunch of lavender (from where it won’t be missed, and will be cut down in a week or so). When it dries it will be mixed with wheat and sewn into bags for winter – microwaved they provide heat and scent. And finally, on new year’s day the Christmas tree (a branch cut from the same tree every year) is stripped and thrown out the door to dry until bushfire season is over and we can burn it on the winter solstice as the older gods intended and my grandmother once observed on the other side of the world.   


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2100 31st December, Mount Pleasant

impatient children
scamper about the hillside
parents sip their drinks
as the light drains from the sky
and the canvas is prepared


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0500 December 30th, tachycardia

The rooster sounds reveille, but I am already awake
and swimming upwards from a dream of drowning
into bathwater-warm air, saturated with the night’s breaths.
At least in my dream the water was cool.

Sinking back, submerging again into sleep
the flickering in my chest, in my scalp, pulls me up.
Morning meds, a glance at the sky, and back to bed.
Nightmares are a side effect, supposedly,
but I long to sink back into dreams.

The rooster has woken the magpies, their songs flow –
silver streams, winding and twining through
a dawn of grey freshwater pearl,
leading me back to cool waters.


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0900 29th December

The cool change has swept away
all my excuses for indolence.
Today is a day for doing.
Yet there is little to be done –
in these in-between days
between Christmas and New Year,
the only have-tos are done by 9.
The kookaburras have long finished their morning rounds
the rooster is taking a break, and,
apart from some gossiping wattlebirds,
there is unaccustomed quiet.
Even the children are muted –
couch-bound hungry caterpillars
steadfastly working their way through
box after box of cereal.
After a year of wishing for
some peace,
some respite from all the have-tos
some time to drink a coffee before it goes cold…
and, halfway through my still-warm second cup,
I am at a loss for what to do with myself.


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2000, 27th December (common browns and dragon flies)

The day is ending, let’s go outside,
and watch the sky slip into night
come, hold my hand, I’ll be your guide
as we wander through the fading light.
Around the clearing, the brittle-gums
stand tall in sunset-tinted columns
and honey the air as darkness comes
with massed bouquets of tiny blossom.
And on this stage among the trees
the couples form then float apart
pirouetting in the evening breeze
as from the gullies the night-rise starts.
A hundred maidens flutter by
pursued by a hundred eager swains
against the pale blue evening sky
and take with them the day’s remains.
Their peasant cloaks now drawn in tight
fastened, hiding brighter hues
the dancers leave us for the night
and the stage is put to other use.
So this dance ends, the next begins:
comes darting above the canopy
hunger born on cellophane wings –
hover and strike – how uncannily
their preys’ moves they anticipate.
Large eyes tracking tiny forms
and in a minute they decimate
the terrified and swirling swarms.
But darkness, risen like a tide,
has washed away the last pink light
and all the dancers depart to hide
wherever it is they spend the night.
And we also turn and leave this sight,
retrace our steps and go back inside.


My holiday writing project is to complete at least 16 ‘hours’ poems. I wrote a few a couple of years ago, as part of a back and forth with another writer of poems with times as the titles. I always meant to complete a full day but never have, although there are a few from around then on this blog. So this is my re-boot of that project. By the end of the holidays I want to have an April witch sort of poem for each hour from waking to going to sleep. 

I would really love it if anyone else wants to join in and we can link to each other’s ‘hours’ poems. No particular form, and I’m going to try to use several different forms, generally shorter than this.



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0800 27th Dec, vicarious snoozing

Ginger-mutt is caught out, but he sees it is just me and knows there will be no roar of “get off the couch!”. The rules are different before anyone else is up. Continue reading


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