Louise Wakeling – The Spirit of Curiosity

Profile Louise Wakeling LE Poetry & Writing Lesbian Poets & Writers February 2018

Download PDF Here

The Spirit of Curiosity, poems by Louise Wakeling

Louise Wakeling is a poet and fiction writer who escaped from Sydney three years ago after decades of teaching.  She now lives in the Blue Mountains.  Her third poetry collection, Paragliding in a war zone, was published by Puncher & Wattmann, and her fourth, Off Limits, is currently being considered for publication.  Having often worked across several genres, she is writing a novel about a young girl’s coming of age in post-war Australia against a background of domestic violence, and is also composing eco-poetry which draws attention to habitat destruction and species decline.  She is a part-time writer-mentor to culturally diverse women and girls in Fairfield, where she combines her experience as an English and ESL teacher with a strong commitment to empowering those without a voice in mainstream society.  When she is not writing, collaborating with or facilitating the writing of others, she enjoys travel, yoga, friendship and being close to nature.  For an example of her eco-poetry see Guide to Sydney Rivers: http:/​/​meusepress.tripod.com/​sydneyrivers.pdf.

The Spirit of Curiosity

quite a road trip,  that first landing
Spirit bouncing off a rock which
naturally we called “Bounce Rock”
because it’s our prerogative like Adam
to name things, abrade surfaces, drill holes
in the rusty fabric of dead  planets –
it’s what we do

now solar-propelled Curiosity
geared to shovel pay-dirt – signs
of ancient water,  methane, maybe life,
once, alluvial fans and sand-ripples
a map of our own future

Bradbury’s imagined world dessicated,
long gone, eroded rock strata scattered
like the bones of Martians on the edge of craters

cute,  personable,  robots way beyond
their use-by date learn too late
what might be useful tomorrow


“Plump thing with a navel”, Cortez discovered you growing
in Montezuma’s gardens, brought your seeds back to Europe –
a showy curiosity designated not for eating.  Tomatoes ripen
in a bowl, the colour of becoming.  Your contours resile
from certainty – are you pommes d’amour, fruit or vegetable,
poisonous or not?  State fruit/state vegetable, Arkansas has you
both ways.  Pale, blue patterned, the bowl enfolds you, knowing
you’re grounded, the way you bow to the earth with your own weight,
sprawl without support, supine, riotous on the vine.  I’d stake my life
on you, seeding all over the place, between bricks, at a side gate,
promiscuous among daisies, no respecter of borders, time-traveller
on the beaks of birds.   One day, hot tomatoes, red – ripe for it –
plucked from a garden somewhere, you bring the outside inside.
I’ll wait until you’re good and ready, and then I’ll have you,
right there on the kitchen table.   This poem doesn’t give a damn
about canteloupes, only the way a shaft of sunlight transforms you,
a warm room brings you on, wolf-peaches in a curve of china

answer to The Couple’s Tao Te Ching

You can’t hug a Saguaro – we both know that.  I’ve tried it,
in a spirit of craziness or satire or because some of us, we’re innate
tree-huggers, and Saguaro seem so – personable.   I know,
this flowing love binds you and  your beloved to all things in creation…  
They stand there in the desert, waving and pointing and semaphoring,
wanting a conversation, giving us the thumbs up, or sometimes
the rude finger.  Forget that spirit of the West stuff – as though the Saguaro
has anything to say about Manifest Destiny or Westward ho! the wagons

But they tempt us.  We read faces, arms and limbs akimbo, see cowboys
in dusty high-noon streets.  Survivalists  bunkered down in the desert,
weapons at the ready like a border vigilante.  A threatened species.
Every part of them, gesture and language, beautiful and useful:
a hollow for birds,  so Tao, extravagant, night-blooming,
nectar flowing to long-nosed bats in the flowering season

Let’s face it – they’re damn prickly, and we can only mimic intimacy,
mock-hug something that lets us know it means business if we try
to get too close.  Keep a respectful distance from those spines, girl –
like lovers who say “you just want more than I can give” –
they’re armed to the teeth, and will protect themselves


wildfires and  rogue winds and what bullets do to bodies    but we can make ice in the desert detect black holes colliding by the ripples in space-time    gulp lime-green gelatine with our goldfish mouths    astronauts free-floating in weightlessness    and call it food    somewhere in the constellation Scutum Pioneer 11 ploughs on   ambassador for humanity   out of touch with Earth but bearing a plaque   an image of a man and a woman    a spacecraft   a map of the galaxy and our location in it  just so they know where we live and what we know foundations are shaking    new fissures zig-zag over surfaces   but we cheerfully hazard-avoid among the stars   our names can be tweeted to Mars – better still our remains blasted into deep space  an everlasting celestial journey  a star among stars    (environmentally benign, surprisingly affordable) or as someone said kiss my ashes

© Louise Wakeling