Marion May Campbell – Afterlife

May Campbell profile Dec 2020

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

Throughout her work Marion has tried to challenge the politics of representation through a poetics of resistance – in poetry, (third body Whitmore Press 2018; Fragments from a paper witch Salt 2008, a finalist in the 2010 Adelaide Festival Literature Awards: Innovation), novels (the most recent of five being konkretion UWAP 2013), playscripts, and memoir (The Man on the Mantelpiece UWAP 2018). Her novels have been shortlisted for major Australian awards and twice for the Canada-Australian Prize, with Not Being Miriam winning the WA Week Prize for fiction back in 1988. Her critical monograph Poetic revolutionaries (Rodopi 2014) explored intertextuality and subversion. Although semi-retired from university work, she still supervises graduate writing projects at Deakin University.


you come to me at night
with your huge hands
signing dark & slow
my sentence
& I sail

as slight
as a tangent
off your buoyant breast
into the bigger breeze just
coasting along

for the moment
deflation like the withered
parachute’s inverted

the first death always returns
& the clouds ride a carousel
around a hill
singing out
carnival tunes

summer comes in
like fish & chips in the air
down on the boardwalk
where are you & where
is our assignation

not here not here & I dream
you & I are reconciled
finally in some kind of
gracious afterlife
a sweet reprieve

to eat & talk
at this eternal banquet
but all the food
is just pictures of food &
all our talk is just pictures

of words like Ed Ruscha’s
painting ‘Vanishing Cream’
yet there’s no picture
of wine & as you begin
to vanish I wonder

was it the Cheshire Cat
who ate the vanishing cream
but your lingering smile
clearly says it’s you
who first have vanished me

© Marion May Campbell