During a momentary lull in her head,
the poor old thing lost her grip.
The boat she was towing towed her instead
ponderously down the slip,
backwards into the water.
For a swirling moment she almost floated,
she thought of setting sail.
But her bum tilted, her britches bloated —
she was heavy in the tail —
and the sly seaweed caught her.
I thought even then she might make a try
(she seemed to be righting her flank)
but she spun gravely, one eye on the sky,
gave a dignified splutter and sank.
The sea frothed briefly.
I don’t know — she wasn’t the kind to drift,
much less come apart at the seams.
But the sails and the clouds that day had a lift,
and perhaps she had some dreams.
It was a damn nuisance, chiefly.
© Rosemary Nissen 1974
from Universe Cat, Pariah Press (Melb.) 1985, and
Secret Leopard: new and selected poems 1974-2005 (Alyscamps Press, (Paris) 2005
First published Nation Review.
A Second Australian Poetry Book for Children, Oxford
Secondary English Book 3, Macmillan
Off the Record, Penguin
Penguin Book of Australian Women Poets.
An oldie but a goodie, submitted, in addition to previous post, to dVerse Translucent Poetics: Writing Spoken Word, because unlike the previous it's in first person according to the requirements, and because it's my most popular poem in both publication and performance. (The only difference, I've found in practice, is that whereas the last line works best as a throwaway line on the page, in performance it must be hammed up and spoken with exaggerated drama as if written with an exclamation mark.)
Also submitted to Poets United's Poetry Pantry #89 because I think it's time it found a wider audience outside Australia.
Thank you for your comments. I read and appreciate them all, and reply here to specific points that seem to need it — or as I have the leisure. Otherwise I reciprocate by reading and commenting on your posts as much as possible.