Beth Spencer – Walking this way without you

Profile Spencer LEP&W ANZ May 2021

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Live Encounters Poetry & Writing May 2021
Special edition featuring poets from Australia & New Zealand.

Beth Spencer’s books include Vagabondage (UWAP), and How to Conceive of a Girl (Random House) which was runner up for the Steele Rudd Award. She won the 2018 Carmel Bird Digital Literary Award for The Age of Fibs which will be published in an expanded book form later this year. Her work has frequently been broadcast on ABC-Radio National. She lives on Guringai & Darkinjung land on the NSW Central Coast, and @bethspen.

Walking this way without you

These days I step to the salt of diamonds
& a fine scribble of grass.

The trees shimmy
with an invisible clutch of life.

I love the huggability of telegraph poles,
the hello, hello, how are you? of flowers.

I count competing bird brands —
dog brands are easier (love me! no me me!).

A white-trousered parrot inspects
a drunken coven of witches’ hats.

In the park, magpies beak the air.
Past the dunes, the crack of waves.

Then the sun touches
that place on the back of my neck

(where your fingers once rested, lightly)
and the wind pipes me home.

Blood on the wattle

(lest we forget)

one day my brother hauled home
a great bright bunch of wattle
put it in a bucket by the wood stove

and I in my ecstasy
buried nose-deep
breathing beauty

(and a mist of pollen)
Till suddenly —
blood spurting out

great spots staining the memory
as I circled the room
shocked and

desperate for a way out


In a world in which things fling
unnecessarily long sometimes
and way too short
you held my eyes

cupped them in your palm
rolled them on your tongue
flicked the colour out of the irises
blew, softly

and like dandelions, telling
time time time
(never never ever)

bits of me drifted
— out to space
caught stars in my teeth
tasted heaven

© Beth Spencer