Margaret Galbreath

Born in England in 1925, came to Australia with husband and eldest child 1949. Since then they have lived in Queensland, Victoria, Tasmania and Canberra, finally settling in Elizabeth, SA in 1961. Now has six children and six grandchildren.

Has had poems published in a number of Friendly Street Readers, also in Meanjin, Mattiod, Poetry Australia, Northern Perspective, Linq, and in anthologies An Infliction of Silence, From Below, Spin of Gold Wattle and on the ABC’s First Hearing.

In 1982 had published a local history Elizabeth the Garden City with co-author/artist and researcher Gillian Pearson.

Worked in the Old Elizabeth South Library from 1970-1985

Now has turned from writing to music and belongs to two folk groups: Filigree and Tolpuddle.

News From The Colony

Left Adelaide this morning,
rode along the plain,
line of hills scouting
on the right flank all day,
stiff scrub and the high
grass rolling under the wind.
Could have thought myself
at sea again, figurehead dipping.
Kangaroo grass, they call it.
I expected flying fish,
black dolphin crescents.

Tonight at the Traveller’s Rest,
sealed in my cube of candlelight,
shouts of bullockies in the bar
muffled through mud walls.
If I tip my head against
this grey pane, there’s the moon
caught in sparse eucalyptus rigging,
still marking the months,
miles, from a known land.

Wish you were here.

From Friendly Street No. 2 and Tuesday Night Live

Alfred Street

I knock at the door of a child’s painting;
under a corrugated hat, flat face
rests its chin on the grimy path
of Alfred Street. Square eyes squint
at the carpark wall, miss
the old conspiracy of polished glance
from cat-slits in white lace irises
vanished from across the street.

So much to miss, a hundred years
of compact life in this city village.
The men stumped off to warehouse
or railway, or to dig graves, perhaps,
for grave dignitaries:
not far to the cemetry. The women
scrubbed steps and characters, watched, smiling,
school morning ballet of boots and pinafores.
The seasons brought their crops
of ropes and marbles, ripened walls
from winter goals to summer wickets.

Dead years fall like rain,
bleach, dissolve the bright shapes of time past,
seep with them down oily gutters.
As I touch the lonely face,
pitted stone skin, the door opens.
The dry mouth licks me in.

From Friendly Street No. 10

Limestone Country

I walk the creek, upslope,
love its everyday joyous
shape-shifting, the slick, quick change
of personality. Pool like a bowl of China Tea.
Feathered rapids moulting
white whorls to tiny bays.
Clear film taut on
pavement of freckled pebbles.
Silver winks in watercress.
Bunched translucent muscles on
rock bones. Then, in a step
from everyday to mystery,
darkness. Because these hills
are hollow. Water’s inexorable tongues
have licked them out. The creek’s roots
have whispered through fissures,
huge colonnaded domes, the secret ways
of eyeless fish, to join, to tunnel,
to slide quietly under this lip
of grey furrowed rock,
this one old quivering tree.
From here where winter
leaves earth for air, the tree
is lit by flames of fire-tail finches
and is not consumed.

From Friendly Street No. 11