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Live Encounters Poetry & Writing February 2023
Winter, poems by Stephanie Green.
A winter morning. The frozen blue of his eyes. Wide enough to lose myself in. Deep enough to make me forget. For those eyes I might let everything go. Tributary. Estuary. Ocean. Knowing, I try to walk past, to turn away, but that ice blue keeps me there, like a view of the sea on a bright, windswept day. He doesn’t reach out. Just holds to his place. River. Reservoir. Pond. It’s the eyes that do the work, even though that pale cold shade isn’t my favourite. Give me colours that forge life. Ultramarine. Heliotrope. Lapis. He’s speaking now. I feel his breath on my cheeks. A kind of summoning that everything in me wants to resist. Yet still I’m there, as if I’ve reached out to touch a pillar of ice, to see what the numbness of cold really feels like, and now can’t pull my hand away. Stalagmite. Glacier. Snow. I know his heart will never be warm enough to set me free. I know he’ll absorb me if I stay too long and I won’t be able to turn away. I know it will hurt, just as it always hurts, to tear myself back to the fray. But I have hours yet before the reflection fades.
The tops of the cliffs are bare but for the straggling parched wild thyme and sage, rocks embedded with the fragile shells of limpets, their tiny bodies shrivelled aeons ago. Whispers through time, winds and prophecies, planets changing places, scraps of life, an eternal brevity of waking and demise. In the cove below, fishing boats edge further out, luring the shoals with bait before they cast the nets. Later in the market you ’ll buy a bag of sea urchins, scooping out the yellow roe with a pair of spoons to eat them with lemon juice and a sprig of parsley stolen from an untended garden. It saddens you a little, to break open the shell.
Blow out the candle. Shake the cloth. Put the cutlery away for another time. Fold the cards and wrap them in the great-grandmother’s embroidered shawl. They have nothing to tell us now. This is the time for long walks and sea skies at the mauve edge of day. Time for sitting on the porch in the thin cloud of a mosquito coil talking of words, how we cannot say everything. How some things always remain unacknowledged, unsaid. Now the rain has given us reprieve. There is no need to think of what is beyond us. Later we will prepare, but here and now we will count our green blades of grass and the pink flowers I planted in the old barrel while you slept.
The rain comes and I think of birds, their tender sharpness, and of flight. The magpies came today looking for crumbs, hungry and sleek, scratching at my door, the small one cawing and the others singing cascades. Each time, I test the wind thinking how I might like to go with them to the far, high places, even above the tree-tops and the rooves, surfing the elements, inscribing atmosphere with movement and sound. How I might like to escape the noisy streets and the braying about nothing and the waving of arms in anger and the forgetting that we are here to live, yes, live together and die peacefully. This year my claws are soft, my feathers fallen. This year I am earthbound as my words. But the year is nearly done.
© Stephanie Green
Stephanie Green has published short fiction, poetry and travel essays in Australian and international journals, including Burrow, StylusLit, Meniscus, Text and Axon. Her work is also included in recent anthologies such as the Anthology of Australian Prose Poetry (Hetherington & Atherton 2020) and The In/completeness Book, edited by Julia Prendergast, Shane Strange & Jen Webb (Recent Work Press 2020). She has published a collection of prose poems, Breathing in Stormy Seasons (Recent Work Press 2019) and a selection of short fiction Too Much Too Soon (Pandanus 2006). Stephanie has worked as a freelance writer, arts administrator, university lecturer and publisher. She is currently an Adjunct Senior Lecturer with Griffith University.