Monday, October 3, 2011

Tuesday Poem - Launch Poem by Anna Fern

first time I met Jennifer, a supreme court judge's wig of crimped grey curls
she said she was wondering when some clever girl would snap up The Maurice
her blessing
but why had I not had any children; it was a weakness of character
she vivisected my regret, there on the polished parquetry floor
a blessing can also be a wound
but her fierceness made me laugh, helpless

I didn't snap him up, it was a laborious beginning
arm in arm, a wooden dolly and a teddy bear struggling  up the paddock
dry grass and dust, still radiating
the heat of the day at Montsalvat, the poets and the wine and all the carry-on
he leaned across the car, over the gearstick, talking excitedly the whole way home as
we wound along the cool river flats. I tried to reply and drive safely and listen and
change gears, him and the electricity pylons buzzing into the night air

back at the bachelor flat, he sat me on a kitchen chair, cooked me an omelette
cheese and tomato - I thought of that when Jennifer said how mothering he was -
and he told me about this literary lioness, performed plays around Australia
who relished the whole shambolic love-in that was Overload
her all clipped and controlled - knocked out the quaint New Zealand vowels and
went her own way, even though she was frightened of flying, and of being driven
but fearless on the back of a galloping horse

now she wears a cap of ringlets wound tight
declares she is old and invisible
but those imperious cheekbones are still there
and that steady gaze, seeing everything, our pathetic ephemera
buttons and razor blades, their eloquence and mystery

she said I wasn't there yet, my poems needed to take more risks
she wanted to see blood on the floor
I don't want to show myself unravelling
but she already knows
knits me a shawl of encouragement
fierce poetry mother

I couldn't resist posting the poem Anna Fern wrote for the Melbourne launch of my book This City - she and Maurice McNamara did the honours on the night and, as I had hoped, they were fresh and surprising and amusing and just generally fantabuloso. I am pretty sure a good time was had by all at Red Wheelbarrow in Lygon Street. I know I had to make two runs to the bottle shop next door!
Just one thing though - I am not fearless on the back of a galloping horse. I don't think I have ever been fearless on the back of a galloping horse, and these days, what with one thing and another, I just don't climb up onto a horse, that is another thing that is all over for me. Ah, so sad LOL.


  1. Absolutely LOVE this poem...Anna you so summed Jennifer up- and more
    great work :)

  2. Jen, this is fantabuloso - so you, you 'fierce poetry mother' you 'literary lioness' - what a fantastic tribute! Mx

  3. 'blood on the floor'! exactly! that's what this poetry scene needs more of [in its writing, that is]. sweet poem, and true. as are both [all three?] women concerned... :-)