my legato heart

the cello soars
as we glide upwards
along the road
cut deep into
sandstone cliffs

afternoon sun
warms my hand
on your knee —
the rubato section

float in —
we descend
the curving ridge
of mount white

the cadenza —
vibrating strings surge
we turn the last bend
your smile caresses
my legato heart

Julie Thorndyke (New South Wales)
First published in USYD student anthology


on a grey day
she walks from the station
and folds her dry raincoat
onto my stool —
I will sit taller at the piano

birdlike, this examiner
doesn't sit to listen
but hovers —
turning pages and pointing out
features of the music

next time
she conducts my exam
I must play her own sonatina —
she hurries me on
to the Chopin

a song written
on the train near Ashfield
says her note
… I hope someone else
still knows the tune

metal trunks full of paper —
so many melodies
hidden away

For Miriam Hyde 1913 – 2005

Julie Thorndyke (New South Wales)
First published in Yellow Moon
Also published in Women's Work

Twenty-eight squares

Never been
much of a knitter,
but this winter, driven
by sorrow and hopelessness
I resolve to knit squares,
twenty-eight garter stitch boxes
to calm my head and occupy my hands
with yarn and needles, repetition
like a prayer wheel as I worry
about the ones I love, and at the same time
create a little bit of warmth
to offer a stranger, and hope
that my awkward stitches
will not be spurned.

Julie Thorndyke (New South Wales)

Adam's Rib

under his thumb
let him think
he has won
knit two, purl two

another day
she plays for time
he gets his way
purl two, knit two

children share
but he wants all
can she dare
knit two, purl two

ticket bought
her day has come
time to run
purl two, knit two

on the stair
the game is up
she’s missed a stitch
he’s waiting there

no time left
for casting off
she is

Julie Thorndyke (New South Wales)

That Undiscovered Country

Inside the pages
of every novel I ever saw you
sink into; every book whose tortured paths
I travelled, whose country lanes I meandered,
whose highways I traversed in dubious company

inside each book we read, separately,
sequentially, sometimes by recommendation
sometimes serendipity, we entered
undiscovered countries

of time, place, plot and character,
meeting old friends and new, finding
soul mates, escaping villains, hoping
for a final verdict that would dispense
justice with a masterly hand.

We met ourselves there.

I do not fear for you, my friend,
gone ahead into that last undiscovered country,
the book cover closed forever
behind you.

Julie Thorndyke (New South Wales)

Longing for Quacky: A Poem in Three Parts

Part One:

I sit at the café
I order a coffee
I stir the coffee
I stir it with pastimes
I stir it with an absent mind
I think about silver spoons to pass the time
Orson Welles who Lucy called Horse on Wheels;
Quacky was what I called you;
Every morning you called me;
These are some of the things we knew
That no one else did and no one else ever will know

Part Two:

He walks through the door
She comes through the door likewise
They knock it down with a whole circus
Either Welles or some Wheels roll on through
But I can’t be sure
Because they’re all standing behind
Your absence
Which is blocking up the whole doorframe like you wouldn’t believe
I wish you would get out of the way
Everything is about you
I wish you would get out of the way
But there isn’t much you can do about it in your absence

Part Three:

I can’t believe you don’t come any more
Believe you don’t I can’t come any more
More can’t I believe you don’t come any
And all of the permutations and all of the names and dropping of names and useless repetitions
From which I can make no witchy incarnations no material manifestations no connections
No I can’t make anything from these useless rhythms
But I can get tight I can write I can calculate the logarithm
And long and long and long
For the ultimate correction

Caitlyn Lesiuk (South Australia)


Division of Assets

The division of assets is nearly complete —
the house, furniture, investments, car.
You get the ping pong table
     I get the lawn mower.
You, the Bruce Willis DVDs
     I, the bread-maker.
You, the collection of miniature trains
     I, the budgie and cage.

And as for our arsenal of weapons? Our history of war?
What say you keep the arguments you won
     I’ll keep mine?
You take the whetstone you sharpened your words on
     I’ll take the kiln for my heated retorts.
You keep your stealth bombs
     I’ll take my land mines
and as for the cloud of silence
that’s mushroomed between us,
let’s say we leave it in No Man’s Land.

But what of our happy memories? How to divide?
Should you get the smell of our baby’s head
     I, his first smile?
You, the way he messily ate his mash
     I, our trips to the zoo?
And what about bath time — our son on the tiles
in the damp white flag of his towel?

Marianne Musgrove (South Australia)

On the road 1

In case I meet you
on the road
I will don
my sharpest clothes

shine my boots
gird up my guts
soften my hands
confine my hair

practise my words
arrange my face
squeegee my eyes
check my teeth
     in the cracked mirror

I will don
my sharpest clothes
in case I meet you on
the road

     however unlikely that
     may be

Jackson (Western Australia)