Tricia Dearborn

Sanctuary

 

We woke to that kitchen’s
good morning smell of toast

its squares of lino,
green, blue and red

that we hopscotched across,
the gas stove that leaked a little

so that, to this day, a faint smell of gas
is homey and slightly magical.

Played in the long backyard
with the old cracked path,

its lemon tree, dahlias, frangipani,
beans and mandarins, passionfruit vine.

Or in Grandpa’s stone-floored garage,
always cool, with its thick dark

smell of engine oil. At night
we lay wakeful in the small wooden beds

with the built-in drawers
or on the mattress laid between them

claiming each train in turn,
each of us wanting the last of the night

to be ours, the winner announced
by a lengthening peace.

From the small recessed window
the Virgin Mary in her blue robes

watched over us, arms outstretched.
The bathroom had a noisy glass towel rail,

a high old-fashioned light switch
still out of my reach at seven.

In the sheltering night of that house
when I called out to Mum

she’d come to me
from the back verandah.

In the hallway, the child Christ clings
to a knowing-eyed Madonna.

He’s run to her from his bed,
one sandal dangling.

The angels to either side
with their terrifying portents.

 

 


 

 

From the sequence ‘Autobiochemistry’

 

[17] Chlorine

 

The faint scent in my friend’s backyard
promised relief from the dry

grip of summer. Instead,
I went under, caught unawares

by a sudden slope down to the deep end.
My friend put into practice her bronze medallion –

placed my frantic hands on her shoulders,
breast-stroked to the side, where I lay

gasping, taking into my body
this fresh knowledge: catastrophe can loom

on a sunny day. Sometimes
another can save you.

 

 

 

 

Tricia Dearborn’s poetry has been widely published in Australian literary journals, as well as internationally and online. Her work is represented in significant anthologies including Contemporary Australian Poetry, Australian Poetry since 1788 and The Best Australian Poems. Her third collection, Autobiochemistry, completed with the support of an Australia Council grant, is forthcoming from UWA Publishing. 

 

 

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