Alison Manthorpe

Alison Manthorpe grew up on a farm at Keith, in the upper south east of South Australia. She has been President of Eyre Writers Inc., Port Lincoln for the past seven years and editor of the monthly newsletter. She jointly edited the collections A Bright Crimson Flower (Eyre Writers 1994), The three-cornered paddock (Cummins Creative Writers, Tumby Bay Writers, and Eyre Writers 1997) and Patches and drifts (Eyre Writers 2000).

She won the ABC Admella Award for the Western Region in 1996 for prose. Her poems have been published in Hobo, Poetrix, the Bunyip, Friendly Street 24, The Colonial Athens and in three Eyre Writers’ collections. Her poetry collection Fish Star Glinting was published in Friendly Street New Poets No. 6 (Friendly Street/Wakefield Press – 2000).

Fish Star Glinting may be purchased from the Wakefield Press website.

The Dark Sea

He is gone from me
to where horizons
flat as a knife blade
cut the seaman loose
from earth’s substantial logic
Only seabirds balanced on air
watch where he works
lives out his days
balanced on water,
ploughing the heaving swells
of ocean.

poised between ocean and sky,
he is balanced too finely
for my peace,
over the tumbling chasms
of the ever-changing,
dark sea I celebrate
and fear.
Implacable, uncaring,
the ocean
shares my love’s love with me

From Friendly Street No. 6

West MacDonnell Ranges

Dry Gully
Ribbons of bark
rustle like snakeskins underfoot.
Mallees curtsey in the wind
and fill the gully with singing.
In the leaf litter
a rust red skink, striped black,
hides in stillness;
its nerve fails; it flicks away
under the stones.
like a word on the tip of my tongue.
I would like
to flit through the dreaming ranges
knowing the lore and the secrets,
reading the signs,
living the stories told by the rocks.
I would go barefoot,
naked and stippled with ochre
and have no fear of splinters
or sunburn.
This is my land. But my stories
come from a different hemisphere,
and are told by different rocks –
by rings of standing stones,
menhirs, rune stones, cromlechs.
I offer thanks to the old heroic gods
who stacked those blocks,
painted those colours,
built that sheer red wall,
that I have strength to walk here,
eyes to see,
space in my memory
before age tethers me,
darkens my sight
and knots my bones.
Above, a white stemmed eucalypt
small from high distance,
spills a brace of jade green parrots.

From Friendly Street No. 6

The Headland

Clouds are burning up into morning,
incandescent, swirling gold
and a feathering of silver
low to the ridge across the channel.
A pelican, steady on strong wings,
flies past the headland. Unalarmed,
great bill folded on her breast like a cutwater,
she keeps her course close by me.
Our glances meet
and hold.
On the brink of understanding
the calm behind that deep dark eye
I see her pass, watch her go
stroking slow wing-beats over the gilded water
into a sky by Turner.
With a sense of loss, of chances missed,
I turn away
and count five oyster catchers
prodding the beach for sea snails
below the point.

From Friendly Street No. 6