Christine Churches

Christine Churches was born in 1945 and grew up in Keith, South Australia. She was educated in the second-hand bookshops of Sydney, and then more formally at the University of Adelaide. She was co-editor with K. F. Pearson of The Orange Tree – South Australian Poetry to the Present Day (Wakefield Press, 1986). A slender output of her poems has been published in various anthologies including Friendly Street’s Tuesday Night Live and with the Angus and Robertson ‘Poet of the Month’ series. Christine writes history now, and currently lives and works and walks in North Yorkshire.

Night Vision, Yarrawonga

At sunset we came to the river,
slow water feeding through trees;
a hawk with wings sharpened
boundary riding the paddocks of air.

White ponies on green grass
crop the evening by handfuls into night.
Dark draws sharp breath beside us,
a spring of cold air bubbling
between the stonework of the stars.

From The Friendly Street Poetry Reader & Tuesday Night Live

My Mother and the Trees

She shook the doormat free of dogs,
struck the tank to measure water, as she
marshalled us with iron buckets
to carry rations for the trees.

From fibres of air, she wove us there
the hope of leaves,
and in the flat and tepid dust
she dreamed a dwelling place of shade.

Summer by summer we carted water, slopped
lopsided up and back across the paddock:
the promised land a skeleton of stakes and hessian,
her voice insistent that they lived.

Reluctant slaves and unbelievers,
we sat out of sight
with our feet in the buckets, as she
filled the sky to the brim with trees.

From The Friendly Street Poetry Reader & Tuesday Night Live

Being Neighbours

Not that you could blame him:
that trick spilled out mud slippery as guts in the winter
and summer was worse,
like tight-rope walking the back of a snake;
but sometimes if we hadn’t seen him
we’d go and check.
Yes, he’s alright. Mending fences busted wide open
by them flying saucers.
Too late – he’s caught us listening,
unrolls the story with a twist of tobacco
and sets it puffing – the pipe’s philosophical.
His teeth forgotten on the table
could tell it without him . . .
How they come in the evening,
gliding down through the smooth track of air
to graze in his paddocks.
They’re used to him now, and they’ll learn about fences.

But you coming out here so often,
you’ll scare them away.
I reckon I could learn their language
and then I’ll make contact.

From Friendly Street No. 7