Poetry | In my fortieth year, I realise I am not them

The moon rises above clouds—

in the cold light, all is grey, and white.


Night sky turns on a paper wheel.

Stars are silvered, immutable.


The only sound: a deer scarer

filling, emptying, and filling again.





The evening I realised that Verity La was not going to take my feedback about Stuart Cooke’s ‘creative non-fiction’ piece — which has been widely criticised for its sexist and racist representations of Filipinx women — seriously, I turned to poetry, as I usually do when I am troubled. I don’t consider my writing ‘therapy’ as such, but I often think of what my poetry teacher, Judith Beveridge, once shared with me about her best friend, the late Dorothy Porter. Dot would say to her that her poems told her what she needed to know before she knew it herself.

I sat at my desk in the early hours of that sleepless morning, and the words came. I could not find many of them—my emotions around the situation were so new to me, and so raw. And the moon—yes, poets and the moon—hung there, in the sky. I then thought of the Izuki Shikibu poem, ‘Although the wind…’, translated by my friend, the poet Jane Hirshfield. And my poem emerged on the page in response, a clean blade of hurt.

I offer this poem to you, here in this shared space: in solace, in solidarity, and in my hope that we will, as a literary community, not only heal from this great rupture, but grow together, and commit to and enact change, for the better.

Eileen Chong

Eileen Chong is an Australian poet. She is the author of eight books. Her next collection of poetry, A Thousand Crimson Blooms is forthcoming from UQP in April 2021. She lives and works on unceded Gadigal land of the Eora Nation. www.eileenchong.com.au

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