Kate McNamara – Celebrate

Kate McNamara LEP&W Sept-Oct V2 2022

Download PDF Here Live Encounters Poetry & Writing Volume Two Sept-October 2022. 

Celebrate, poem by Kate McNamara


Spending my 66th year in a strange and conflicted life
I reflect on the fact that I really should not be alive.
But for that time of change of love
and now I sing Nessum Dorma
broken but rebellious in
a cathedral of Norman Lindsay women
lusting for the 20’s I play
croquet and win and listen
to poems composed for me only me.

In a courtyard that the Gods designed
where the autumn light is dazed with red gold maroon
and I try to forget that winter of Persephone of
Demeter howling in grief O Hades
I can forgive forget and I can file
in memory in the abject darkness of
Nothingness but I too can still be
ambushed by tenderness and your smile.

In that long night where performing
for my life I married you in a
Chinese tavern and old witchdoctors came and sang
Unchained Melody until I exhausted beyond tears
breaking and sobbing cold with the concession
that I had made yielding and unyielding
I sobbed into my blue dress
my Lady of the Lake blue dress for
which I am justly famous and you took my hands
and wiped my eyes like a child and I was
a brilliant and exhausted child with hilarity and
sobbing as you took off my party frock
and covered me with the old leather jacket
that we had bought at the Salvos for two whole dollars
that coat was my refuge my father my home.

Then you fed me tea and honey and music
and told stories of your riding days in winter
and we laughed again in delight as the fire
burned between us both burning us back
to the ground you were hardly
prepared for tenderness or protection or kindness.

You were trying so hard to be a barbarian and
you will still always back a conquest rather than a kill
a conquest love under stars or tussocks or by that wild old river.
Like Alexander the Great you would have forced all your companions
to marry down by Persepolis in the sophistries of Persia
in a wild drunken frenzy as the Greatest Library
on the earth was set aflame by you and all those hapless wives.

And now what will you actually do with my ravaged
and mutilated childhood you are a capricious lovemaster
of the game you could let in the light open a door
and then run while I will sit quietly
very still reading an old old chart
mapping paths new paths across the High Country to the stars

© Kate McNamara

Kate McNamara is a Canberra based poet, playwright and critical theorist. Her plays have been performed internationally. McNamara delivered the opening address to the Fourth International Conference of Women Playwrights in Galway (2001). She was awarded the H.C Coombs Fellowship at ANU (1991) and elected to the Emeritus Faculty. She won The Banjo Patterson Award for her short story Verity. Her published works include Leaves, The Rule of Zip (AGP) Praxis and The Void Zone (AGP). Her poetry, short fiction and critical theory has been published in a number of anthologies including There is No Mystery (ed. K Kituai, 1998), The Death Mook (ed. Dion Kagan, 2008) These Strange Outcrops(2020) and The Blue Nib (2020) She has also worked extensively as an editor and has only recently returned to her first great love, poetry. McNamara is currently working on The Burning Times.

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