Elaine Golding

Elaine Golding was the principal of a state girls’ school. She was anthologised in the Penguin Book of Australian Women Poets (1986) and Tuesday Night Live (1993).

Poems for Martin


He takes my hand
and leads me to rockpools

where master craftsmen
merge sun and sky

into emerald mirrors
reflecting familiar faces.

Clusters of tiny periwinkles
cling to rocks and each other

or lie in gullies
encased in blue shells

their miniature coils
belying a strength

to withstand green sheeted waves
held aloft on invisible lines.

Contentment caresses my spirit
as breezes ripple the surface of the pool

I shift my gaze
from the colony at my feet

to nine year old eyes
blue as summer skies.

He is my child
and like the tiny shells he loves

is already teaching me
how to roll with the tide.


A child’s cry
heralds dreams’ dark ambush

and the youngest star
is eclipsed by the unlevel light.

A mouth moves
but words are fragmented

a brow tightens
baptised by fear.

And slipping
from my symmetrical bed

I sew up the darkness
like an anonymous seamstress

practising needlepoint
picking you up

as a stitch
in my embroidered appliqué.

I have given you back your sleep
given you back your name

and between my body
and my sheets

you are an anagram

onto the purest
linen handkerchief.

From Friendly Street No. 8

“Genesis”/take 2

lying beneath the tree
she’s heady with the perfection
of moist ripe flesh
caught between exploring fingers
marvels at shape and texture
takes quiet pleasure
in sticky sweet juices
creeping beneath unpolished fingernails
decides to keep a secret —

but he approaches
envious of the new found playmate
afraid of any contest
between it
and his own voluptuous substance
thus, reluctantly she reveals the fruit
lying softly between her legs
presses it to his mouth —

and knows there’ll be trouble in Paradise tonight.

From Friendly Street No. 6

When you returned from France

Out on the terrace
we sit in the shade
of vines

immaculately trimmed
as the nails on your
expensive hands.

The warm noon day sun
lights up the shell like porcelain
arrayed with melon, pears,

and fine French brie.
We make polite conversation
across the silver coffee pot

and glance at the exquisite
bone handled knives
neither one prepared

to make the first cut.
How strange that
I should think

this table
could be set for life
when even the slightest breeze

blows the napkins away
and the fruit is already turning
the amber shades

of an early autumn.

From Friendly Street No. 9 and Tuesday Night Live