Louise Crisp

Louise Crisp’s first collection was the luminous ocean, in the shared volume with Valery Wilde entitled In the Half-Light, (Friendly St. Poets 1988). Other volumes include: pearl & sea fed (Hazard Press NZ, 1994), shortlisted for the 1995 NSW Premiers’ Awards; Ruby Camp: a Snowy River series (Spinifex Press, Melb. 1998); and three golden fish (Wind and Water Press, 2004). Louise lives in east Gippsland, Victoria with her partner and two daughters.


hands are so huge
the ends of a person
down the knuckle-lines to fingertips.
we run up against unfamiliarity
touch short circuits
I watch your arms
your shirt sleeves
fold into the crook of your elbow.
how to remember the feel
of each other
leaning there
out of reach of my hands / your body
has slipped sideways
in the last year.

I dream my hands are huge
and swollen back inside themselves
of fingers continually moving
in front of my face
to the desire to
touch you streams from my fingertips.

From the luminous ocean (In the Half-Light)


the fire-tower balcony
on a windless day
60 feet up is silent
the still place
in the centre
of the mind meditating

afternoon lights
on the eagle
the wedgetail gliding the tower
wingtip feathers fingers spread
oratorio on the wind

I see below me
its brown and black patterns
a Persian carpet
skimming the escarpment
tassles of trees
grey and green
opening and closing
1,001 eyes in the afternoon

From the luminous ocean (In the Half-Light)


1. high country mon amour

born into mountains
from the same blood. place
our placenta map
the way into dreams.

we return
to Bogong
the silent centre of the ranges
where the wind rises
in a space huge enough to fill
the eye of an azure beetle:
colour sky
is glinting under stones

as we travel
single file
along the bare summit ridge
time seems to intersect distance
shrinking and expanding the landscape
and air so clear
we could be gliding
with high slow steps
like moon women
just landed
back in our own country.
to dreams running rapidly over each other
déjà vu becomes prescience
as the lapse
between image and event shortens.

what happens if they coincide?
  in the centre of the mountains
will there be silence?

2. after Mururoa

like the silence
inside Mururoa
it’s in our bones

hollow and blasted
like the coral comb of small animals
crawled inside to die
their homes
are their bodies outside themselves
to wind
from across the lagoon
the rib cage
of some sea mammal
curves out of the sand
an upturned wind instrument
of bones
on the beach
is fluorescent
with palm fronds at night
brilliant green
like the brilliantine of parrots in daylight
their colours repeating into darkness
for eternity
is a half-life crumbling slowly inside you
and bone marrow becomes mash

From the luminous ocean (In the Half-Light)