Marion May Campbell – Inside the Fold

Profile Marion May Campbell LE Poetry & Writing Lesbian Poets & Writers February 2018

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Inside the Fold, poem by Marion May Campbell

in the long approach
as we unfold
& our bodies reconfigure
perhaps there’ll just be this ear-to-ear
attentiveness of breath

days fly from the desk calendar
seasons pulse past quickening
as we go slow –

other times my tone was wrong
with falsetto of ventriloquy
now I must hold to
the sway in filigree

behind the screen only the sense of
gathered intensities
the near-contact of lips breasts thighs
just is

were there to be an after-you –
unthinkable real
then this vow
still to flare
for the tangential
grace of chance
through the flame
of this diminishing
life we share

a child runs past the open door
of palliative care
& in flash of smile –
for instance – sends luminous
over all that I’ve called

we recognised each other
it was seismic you said

the remnants of the anecdote
always unexplained –
I wear a Breton sailor’s pullover
I’ve thrown away the why
the load of backstory
the coarse wool prickling
is point-for-point
its antidote

the halt
in my imagination of the past
I accept & when
I open again the crypt
it will smell of live earth

I follow the cat
who even in this dream
eludes me
down a ladder whose rungs are
missing & cued by the cat’s
exquisite adjustments I
through the earthy darkness
into another country

& – snap – here you are
in your Breton sailor’s jumper
I will only guess your eyes
in after-image vast & blackly tidal
& give over to their pull

under the sailor’s knit
your free breasts rise
& fall above
the long thighs’ sprawl

in the cook’s black & white checked pants
you await your shift
& balancing
your fag on the step-edge

pick up a purse-shaped clay thing –
blow into it
lighting that first flesh fire
Promethea aglow
you pat
the step next to you

& just like that you clear
our interval
again you blow
& in the underbelly
fertile secretive
the silence of knots
takes form

you say
thought I’d never smoke again
but when the news came –
the cat scan you know –
I went straight back out
to buy papers   tobacco
just wanted to stretch
time – go slow

& slow
applies like a soft palm
to my brow
a drugged heaviness
takes my limbs
& darkness
now a big cat on the leash
of captivation pads round & round us
in the slow softness you blow
just one night with you
sings through us

the cat is real
high-beam her eyes pour
gold her ribcage rippling
the bronze Havana coat
she purrs
our hands touch her there
in thrall of the vibration
& now they’re laid each on each
I still feel
the weight of yours

the cat-face swivels its wedge
from you to me
you sling her
across your shoulder
her eyes – lime now – draw
the line of light I follow

in the bar the woman – blaze of
white hair olive skin –
smiles – you say I had to ask her in
we were like     you know snap!
with our sailors’ jumpers

there are ways for us to love
larger than we are
the keyboard & the screen

your flute answers in your dream
& calls up mine
its breath brings in tow
the consonance
where there’ll always be
something more –
for the next time
lived as if the last
to make us go snap!

perhaps then we will
have no use
for these words anymore
perhaps we will
just attend inside the fold
to this manifold
abeyance –

the lava pour –


Marion May Campbell’s recent books include the novella konkretion, (UWAPublishing, 2013) and Poetic Revolutionaries: Intertextuality & Subversion (Rodopi, 2014). Trans-generic experimentation towards a performative feminist and queer poetics has been a key concern of all her work, in novels, essays, works for theatre, and in the cross-genre collection Fragments from a paper witch (Salt, 2008). Her critical monograph Poetic Revolutionaries: Intertextuality & Subversion (Rodopi, 2014) includes studies of the feminist and lesbian writers Angela Carter, Monique Wittig, Kathy Acker and Kathleen Mary Fallon. A cross-genre memoir regarding the queer fall-out of her father’s death will appear with UWA Publishing in 2018. Her novels have been shortlisted for major Australian awards, twice for the Canada-Australia Literary Award and Not Being Miriam won the 1989 WA Literature Week Award for fiction. ‘inside the fold’ is extracted from her new poetry collection Riding parallel, featuring sequences celebrating lesbian love as metamorphic, forthcoming with Whitmore Press in 2018. As Associate Professor in Writing and Literature she supervises graduate writing projects at Deakin University.

© Marion May Campbell