Cathy Altmann – Lacrimae Rerum

Altmann profile Dec 2020

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Live Encounters Poetry & Writing, Volume One, December 2020.

Cathy Altmann’s first collection, Circumnavigation (Poetica Christi Press, 2014), won the FAW Anne Elder Award. Her second collection, things we know without naming (Poetica Christi Press), was published in 2018. She is a poet from Melbourne, Australia, whose poems have appeared in journals, anthologies and on trains. She holds a Masters in Creative Writing on poetry and cancer, and teaches English and Latin. ‘lacrimae rerum’ was written at the height of Melbourne’s lockdown in 2020.

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lacrimae rerum

Close of day. The
cloud trails its
grey edge over
the city, over
the road cresting
near suburban
houses. Trees are
silhouetted – more
solid than the
cloud, which
masses in the
evening air, a
sculpted form
of ash and ochre lit
with white, like
the depths of
a distant nebula. It
says something
in a language I
have forgotten,
of the pocket
handkerchief of
grief I hide and
twist, of the ash-
ochre pulling through
my breast. It collects
the tears in things,
suspended between
the sleeping city
and the sky – pulling
them from us,
holding them in
jars to the last of
the light.

© Cathy Altmann