Gillian Swain – old letters and new

Swain LE P&W 3 Nov-Dec 2023

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14th Anniversary Edition, Live Encounters Poetry & Writing Volume Three Nov-Dec 2023.

old letters and new, poems by Gillian Swain.

old letters and new:
a basket of love lines

Like it requires an apology you say you’re
Out of practice
Versions of ourselves sent weekly
Extended through years and nothing

Lost to time or distance
I still remember the rush of torn envelopes
New paper scent page spillage
Eager fingers unfolding
Story and secrets and I would

Lunge into the lines hungry
Other than greying hair and
Voluptuous proportions
Every pen-stroke every image remains familiar

Long sweeps, the slope and curl
I return seamlessly to this music
Notes we’ve scribed along time
Each year we grew quieter
Silence slowly replaced stamps

Licked and pressed and gone
Other life took us and still
Vivid memories of two young things
Erase any sense of disconnect

Loss was something we shared
It stayed understated
Nested like a waiting bird
Each year a line in the weave
Strengthening our story.

At the mouth

things open,
there are many
ways to wash.

You lean into the cool
cup hands and pull
the spill sweeps

across skin.
Your body knows
quench and breath.

At the mouth
there is birth.
Some are
privileged to see,

open arms and
this gentle smallness.
You are silent

this living cathedral
in your hands

lean and carefully
sweep across skin
cup fingers and wash

this gift which is
not dirty.
Your body knows

this is your own cleansing
and deep inside yourself
things open

and listen.
There are many
ways to welcome.

There are many things
being readied
at the mouth.

Interior abstract

There’s room for you in
burnt red curves. Heat opens
through spheres of thought.

Reflect and shadow and stretch
sometimes penumbra. Mindful melt,
cool shy blue and you move

within colours, among shapes
through spaces
inhabit the things we cannot be

and know a sense of sacred
few of us can see or
carry in our days.

Yet you, there’s room for you
in turning woods and fabrics
in shadow-bright mornings

that fall across your floor
in the solid seats of readiness
this tight curl of furniture

this place of your own making
your own bivouac – open, full and enough
to bring you gladness.

© Gillian Swain

Gillian Swain is an Australian poet based in the Hunter region on Wonnarua land and grew up on Awabakal land. Gillian’s poetry appears in various journals and anthologies including Burrow (Old Water Rat Publishing, v1,2,3) and Live Encounters magazine: Special Australia-New Zealand edition (May 2021) as well Poetry for the Planet: An Anthology of Imagined Futures (2021, Littoria Press), What we Carry: poetry on childbearing (2021, Recent Works Press) and others.  She is involved in running many poetry events and has recently featured as a panelist and guest speaker at literary festivals, as well as curating the poetry component for a local writers festival for three years. Her debut poetry collection is My Skin its own Sky (Flying Islands Press, 2019) following her chapbook Sang Up (Picaro Press, 2001).

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