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Grey Sparrow Journal

Issue 30, July 31, 2017
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THE MARY




It beckons,

the wide river.

I’ll walk beside it

in late afternoon sun

as it shifts around boats

and under bridges,

through mulga

and mangrove flats,

past squat houses

tucked under palms and

in the purple shade of figs,

winding a slow, wayward path

to the Heads where ferries wait

to cross the curve of bay,

reminding me

of the wash of years,

the need for deep reserves,

that it’s easier to follow

the natural course of things.


                               -Jane Frank



PASSING THROUGH

 

 

 

I could live in Stanley,

almost at the end of the world,

where if you draw a line

from the jetty across the sea

it will touch Patagonia.

It reads as a place

others escaped from--

one of our Prime Ministers,

the bloke who invented permaculture,

and anyone seeking the sun--

but I liked the way

the ghosts of convicts

strolled in the windswept garden

high on the hill.

I imagined their voices

in the chapel

as the Roaring Forties

howled uninterrupted

across the Southern Oceans

rattling the locks

of bluestone buildings,

the fishermen’s cottages

across in the town.

Bass and Flinders said

the Nut looked

like a Christmas cake,

but today it thrusts

up into the topaz

and sapphire shades

of Bass Strait

like something less festive,

towering over sandy strips,

fat cows in tussocks

of volcanic grass,

trawlers coming back

from Three Hummock Island

with scallops, crayfish, abalone.

I’d like to stay here

in this land

where the green hills

hug the rocky coast,

where there’s a poetry reading

in the bar tonight,

but we’re passing through,

and the road away

is long, straight and colorless.

 

                                   -Jane Frank




MIDDAY



 

I’m heavy in my body today.

It’s a long walk back

and I’m watching the ground warily

for sticks that move.

This is a primordial place:

dry gullies revealing

a dusty red land

and hook-shaped trees

bending double

under a tangled lantana mess.

Growth and decay happen all at once

as if everything has both slowed

and sped up.

It’s the kind of place

where one of Boyd’s

sad, bewildered bridegrooms

could appear,

a wilderness

where evil

feels close to the surface.

The creatures here

are ancient, knowing.

It’s a place of bodies

lost in libido,

figures and landscape

joined in a dark mythology

I don’t quite understand,

magic and menacing at the same time.

It's beautiful

but I don’t belong.

The yellow eyes of birds

watch me take the keys from my bag.

The fear is real.


                                                -Jane Frank