Sunday, September 18, 2011

Tuesday Poem - The Woodwoman by Coral Carter


The woodwoman and her helpers stack sawn jarrah sleepers against the back fence. One hundred and twenty dollars for a six by four. They had no change. Our first transaction and I wasn’t feeling generous about a thirty dollar tip. So Macca and Animal sped up the lane, with malice I thought, the trailer swaying in a spray of stones and dust. Hannah, the woodwoman, stayed and talked about the ugliness of palms. Stupid trees long and naked with no shade potential. The people who planted them didn’t realise what mess makers they were. A hangover from the eighties when everyone was mad for them, but this desert town is no place for a tropical palm. She hoped it didn’t rain as the red mud was ferocious. Glued itself to boots and shoes and didn’t budge except onto any indoor surface. She reckoned her kids believed she was created to clean mud off stuff. She was in a hurry and had to go to work making pizzas for hungry bastards. The men came back from getting the change. Tried to break the land speed record down the back lane.

Someone is drilling.
A kid is in trouble.
My shadow chases my pen.
Cabbage moths love dance across the sky.
Crouching clouds begin to creep.
A leaf hobbles across the pavers.
I prop the gate open.
Look at the new neat woodpile.
The sawn red ends of wood.
I photograph the wood and the stupid palms.
My cup is empty.
Incense burns low.
As I preview the photographs,
I see my reflection in the camera screen.
Wrinkled and white.
That’s me now,
I say to myself,
Get used to it.

I met Coral at the WA Poetry Festival and loved her work. She is a dynamic reader and the kind of gutsy person who starts up a press (Mulla Mulla) to publish poetry. But she is an all-rounder, she does lots of stuff.
"Coral Carter is attracted to doing things which begin with P, poet, photographer and publisher.

Coral lives in Kalgoorlie Western Australia walking daily on the country she was born in." 


  1. ooooh yes! I love that Carter-Woman. Love this poem.
    Great blog Jennifer.


  2. I too am a fan - and have focused on this poem before. It is truly fine. Thanks for sharing it, Coral and Jen.

  3. Oh! Love this poem.

  4. I really enjoyed this, Jennifer. It took me into a world that was both unfamiliar, jarrah sleepers, palms, red mud, and familiar--the woman, the helpers, the no change, and also resonated with the universal:

    "That’s me now,
    I say to myself,
    Get used to it."

    Powerful, gutsy stuff.