Contemporary Australian Poetry

Ancient professors by Christopher Konrad

Head by Alice Savona

Waiting for rain

by Beth Spencer

 

Talk is cheap

in this opportunity shop

 

(‘Just a drought,’ the old men say)

 

as I touch the frosted rims

of 1950s tumblers,

run the spines of a row of

condensed books,

breathe in bridesmaid dresses

and lace curtains.

 

Next - Lake Cooper - bone dry.

A long list of birds on the board

 

waiting to return.

 

(A ghost

    wind

shifts in the reeds.)

 

— Like the mice,

rustling

in the hessian walls

of my brother’s kitchen.

 

— And Spike,

with his Christmas bone

In April.

 

I step gingerly through

a shower of rose petals

that bloody the path

to the shed,

 

where all that remains

is a set of false teeth

on a fruit box.

 

And, lost, in an

untouched bank-account,

a fist-full of wool money.

 

Outside, in the yellow grass

the sun rests down

on a rusting harvester.

 

(‘Just a drought.’)

 

And the earth turns

from us / to us

as we dream.

Beth Spencer’s verse memoir, Vagabondage (UWAP), is her third book and first in 18 years. Her awards include the Age Short Story Award, runner up for the Steele Rudd, and the Inaugural Dinny O’Hearn Fellowship. Her poems, stories, opinion pieces and essays have been published widely and broadcast on ABC Radio National. The Party of Life, a bilingual (English-Chinese) collection is due out soon from ASM/Flying Islands. On the web she can be found at www.bethspencer.com and on twitter at @bethspen.