Anne Elvey – After the outbreak

Elvey LE P&W 6 Nov-Dec 2023

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

After the outbreak, poems by Anne Elvey.

After the outbreak

A whipcrack breaks into sleep like a funding alert. Has life become
an examination? At my desk the lure of a grant stiffens my neck. A
fill-in form extends to ache. I recall how invigilation wearies. I want
to gentle a word which holds against the excess detail of our days.
Symptoms confound as curfews cease and lockdowns end. Is their
end an end? Blinking, I pace into bright. Today at a gallop world is
topsy-turvy. Slow. Slow. Steady. When I visit my brother we sit on his
deck. Look says his partner the hibiscus is in flower. I’ve been inside
for months. Wind tussles our locks. Home again, I take up the reins
that are drooping from a solitary summer cloud. I skip with them.

Genealogical inquiries

Did my ancestors move stone
for the Coldrum Long Barrow? Who
by the Medway countered Vespasian?

Whose sisters, whose brothers fell
in defeat? Which mother’s forebears,
their daughters and sons, joined

the Peasants’ Revolt? By what old
road did my father’s father’s
lineage labour for a lord? With elven

gifts who of them wove words into
fable? Who were the psalmists? Who
were the poets? How under the moon

did the breadmakers, winnowers, widows
and thieves, midwives and witches, hearth
hands and kin, with spindle, with sack

and by stove feed this, my inheritance
of body and breath? Before transit by
water and wind, by cart or from sea

when did they look last on Kent?

© Anne Elvey

Anne Elvey lives and writes on unceded Bunurong Country. She is of Irish, Scottish and English descent. Her recent poetry collections are Leaf (Liquid Amber Press, 2022), shortlisted for the 2023 ASLE-UKI Book Prize for the best work of creative writing with an ecological theme, and Obligations of voice (Recent Work Press, 2021). Her chapbook, this flesh that you know (Leaf Press 2015) was international winner of the Overleaf Chapbook Manuscript Award 2015. Her work has been shortlisted in a number of poetry awards including the David Harold Tribe Poetry Award, the Newcastle Poetry Prize and the Peter Porter Poetry Prize. Her latest scholarly book, Reading with Earth: Contributions of the New Materialism to an Ecological Feminist Hermeneutics (Bloomsbury T&T Clark 2022), was awarded the 2023 ANZATS Book Prize for an Established Scholar. Anne is close to completing a new collection, ‘(C)LOUD: A poetic response to child sexual abuse in the Roman Catholic Church’, written from her perspective as a whistleblower. Anne is an adjunct research fellow in the School of Languages, Literatures, Cultures and Linguistics, Monash University, and an honorary research fellow at Pilgrim Theological College, University of Divinity, in Naarm (Melbourne).

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