Two Years On

I want to write a poem about gardening,
watering the veggie patch & how it
reduces things down to a manageable
size. To write a poem about putting on
another load of washing, taking
the rubbish out, catching the bus home.
I want to cut a word here & there:
trimming flowers before arranging
them in a vase. To write a poem
about yoga: feeling vulnerable, inflexible,
briefly graceful. A poem that tells you
to be gentle, that there is time.

I would write it on a Sunday while
the bolognaise for the week ahead
simmers, while the neighbour’s
opera floods through the wall and
the children across the road have a
screaming contest. It would never be
published & wouldn’t be recognised in
either edition of The Best Australian Poetry.

Yet I want to write this poem because
although I don’t think of you every day
or even every week – there are others
who knew you better & feel your absence
more keenly – I know it’s the kind of poem
you’d like & I want to thank you. For that
time I rang you in the middle of the night
raving about my father & you told me to
light a candle, say goodbye, then blow it out.

Thank you for showing that these small
tasks can be enough & that it’s okay to write
a poem slowly, especially one about family.

Elizabeth Allen is a Sydney poet and bookseller. She also works for Vagabond Press and is undertaking a Masters of Teaching (Primary) at the University of Sydney part-time. She is the author of Forgetful Hands (Vagabond Press, 2005) and body language (forthcoming in 2011).
© Elizabeth Allen
Overland 204-spring 2011, p. 122

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Elizabeth Allen

Elizabeth Allen is a poet and short story writer based in Sydney where she also works as a bookseller at Gleebooks. Her work has found frequent publication in well-respected journals and anthologies both in Australia and overseas, including Cordite, Ajar, Bodega, Overland, Southerly, Meanjin, Australian Book Review, and SAND. The author of two poetry collections, Body Language (Vagabond Press, 2012) and Present (Vagabond Press, 2017), Elizabeth won the Dame Leonie Kramer Prize in 2001 and the Anne Elder Award in 2012.

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