Jane Frank – Two Poems

Jane Frank is a poet from Brisbane. Her latest chapbook is Wide River (Calanthe Press, 2020).

Her poems have won awards and been widely published both in Australia and elsewhere, appearing most recently in Westerly, Poetry Ireland Review, StylusLit, Shearsman, and a number of anthologies including Poetry for the Planet, The Incompleteness Book II, The Newcastle Poetry Prize Anthology and Not Very Quiet: The Anthology.

Jane teaches creative and professional writing at Griffith University.


Synaesthesia

She runs at night by the river
to be in the world
watch reflected lights
eat wet darkness like Pac-men
She runs as if she is being chased

Do not run at night they say
Do not take unnecessary risks
but she is tumbling
in the river of her body as she runs,
bookending thoughts

By day in the library she studies
pale-skinned bathers
by tranquil waters, nymphs
and satyrs at twilight
She feels safe

surrounded by frieze
compositions: theatrical back-
cloths of curlews and bellbirds,
wildflowers, dancing brolgas,
ghost gums in purple valleys

R is for river: a synaesthesia
of lilac forgiveness and fear
By night the trees on the banks
wear masks, their bark
burnished with promises

of love. She expects trouble
as she runs by the river at night
but she wants to hear the loud-
ness of her heart, and some-
times, weaving below

the branches, she brushes
the trunks with her cold fingers —
autographs in honey-sap
or calloused with keloid,
both comfort and betrayal

She runs by the river at night
to know beauty and darkness


Washed Away

Her face in shadow: abstract shapes,
mauve space where words were—
things— filled with spirals of quotations
like extinct exotic birds.

Swallows shrugged themselves from
nests in the beams here: flew faster
than the road-runner through palings
and over pink hibiscus,

and her head is the same. She no longer
remembers names of great, great uncles,
streets, sugar plantations: Magnolia? Or
Antigua? Don’t worry, I say.

Wide gaps where trees once stood: I still
see silky oak, gum, bauhinia. The fernery
a sparse old mouth with missing hanging
basket teeth, light

syphoned through allamanda and fading
wisteria perched on rotten timber like
unkempt hair. Home, yet everything in
a state of retreat.

No verdant growth despite the rain:
no long dahlia beds, no rosellas on
the elephant grave, no circular gardens
thick with crucifix orchids.

Anything wild: unsafe. She imagines
the roof lifting in a storm to tear a hole
in the giant’s shoe that is her memory:
treasures blown or

washed away. Keys hidden in jugs, behind
books, inside casserole dishes not used
for twenty years. They would never guess,
she tells me, begs me

to remember secrets she might misplace.
Already they are hazy: I know the hiding
places will change, and that home is a word
she will come to forget.

 

 

 

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