Jane Frank – The Last Ferry

Jane Frank LEP&W V4 Dec 2022

Download PDF Here 13th Anniversary
Live Encounters Poetry & Writing Volume Four December 2022.

The Last Ferry, poems by Jane Frank.

The Last Ferry

On the day of the festival there was jazz music:
yellow leaves were spinning as they fell from the gums
arched protectively above us— the boys barefoot in
the pond, tadpoles darting between their legs
and the fronds of the tall cattails, jam jars ready. I can
still taste the cold wine, feel my fingers skim the
surface of the water.

On other days they dug in rock-
pools with sticks, talked to jellyfish that were a luminous
powder blue I should have bottled. They climbed the
leadlight branches of a fallen tree, faces radiant through
the gaps.

We mapped that smaller world surrounded
by the sea with our foot prints, chased thousands of
translucent crabs at the fringes, the ghost blue of them
shimmering through the late spring tide, the day slipping
slowly into the horizon’s long fingers.

Returning in the half-
dark, we learned the language of striped marsh frogs,
stone curlews arresting us with their staring eyes, the
moon hanging high above ochre cliffs.

Inevitably, the
boys are smiling, bleached hair slick from a last swim,
in their fists cuttlefish and shells, as we wait for the ferry
to pull away.

I can only think of the finality of my mother
cutting threads, the snip of her scissors after the
anticipation and my complaints, the hours of pinning
and hemming, the sound of her talking with pins in
her mouth — something beautiful finished.

The last full
stop in a paragraph— a springboard into white space, a
beach of quiet thought stretching away from the struggles
only visible now in the long, red tongue of sunset over
the mainland, the graffiti cloud.

I often end up here where
it is un-inked, when all the words have ebbed away with
the last ferry through the day’s tired water. It is only in this
place where the sky is black enough to see stars.

Lost Language

Bring the river into focus:
a poem spreading gently like a
wake across the water,
words pulling, keeping us alert
mangroves merging in brackish
blue-browns, beside sky-
reflections the past
has a clearness I scoop up
without spilling from favourite
places: worn jetties, palm-
striped arcadias in its
sheen, our reminiscences
and the black thoughts
of which we never speak
the river keeps confidences
and we will not have time
to repay the debt
I don’t want the darkness in
my head even though the dusk
has a kind mossy face
the sun has erased the future’s
name: the surface a smooth
unwritten tombstone, so
there is only now, only now.
I make a note to remember
lush green kikuyu grass spilling
over banks, a shining
expanse of sand and pebbles at
the widest sashay,
the hum and buzz of the river’s
dream-self loud as dragon-
flies skim millennia like
glass pages, all-seeing and under-
standing the print on
the surface a language lost

The Dressmaker’s Garden

A drain was a prison
For cicadas: skinks surfed on
Bauple nut leaves along a
Swale that ran the length
Of the fence. Sometimes
One fell off, lost its tail.
A fitting could take hours.

I arranged white stones
In circles, stood inside and
Drank the nectar from fire-
Cracker flowers so I could
Grant creatures the power
To speak. I was a beetle
Hunter and herder, twig-
Fenced farms and mustered

Insects, while upstairs,
Pale blue linen was pinned,
Pleated, tucked and hem-
Lines debated. Conversation
Floated down intermittent
Like rain. I worked with lost
Pegs, pebbles, stems and
The soft cases for nuts until

My own patterns emerged:
Among the cool corpora
Of ferns and succulents
Were vital new languages
Scraped in sandy soil using
Pointed seed pod ends to
Fill a whole afternoon’s
Lengthening shadows, sew
Word seams of olive green.

© Jane Frank

Jane Frank’s latest chapbook is Wide River (Calanthe Press, 2020). Her poems have won awards and been widely published both in Australia and elsewhere, appearing most recently in the ACU Poetry Prize Anthology 2022, StylusLit, The Galway Review, Grieve (Hunter Writers Centre 2022), Spelt, Burrow, Poetry Ireland Review, NOON and The Ekphrastic Review. Jane lives in Brisbane where she lectures in creative and professional writing at Griffith University. Calanthe Press will publish a full collection of her work in May 2023. Find more of her writing at https://www.facebook.com/JaneFrankPoet/

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