I ... entered the poem of life, whose purpose is ... simply to witness the beauties of the world, to discover the many forms that love can take. (Barabara Blackman in 'Glass After Glass')

These poems are works in progress and may be updated without notice. Nevertheless copyright applies to all writings here and all photos (which are either my own or used with permission). 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 blog posts as much as possible.

20 September 2015

Revisiting Melbourne

When I went back in summer
it was all trees, exuberant green
along streets and railway embankments.
The Yarra River sparkled
under Princes Bridge.
Gardens in the old suburb
overflowed with roses.

Returning in winter, though,
put me back in the bleak streets
where cold winds kicked up stones
and blew them in eddies, half-heartedly
into the gutters and drains.
The sky was a white sheet
and nothing shone.

I know and I don't know
this multi-faceted city.
It was home for most of my life
but now I've been years away.
I'm getting the street names confused
and the traffic system has changed.
The house where I had my babies  
has been knocked down.

Memories and ghosts
gaze from every corner.
There is a teenage girl,
there is a wife.
There is a worker, there is a lover.
There is a young mother
learning to drive a car.

She is writing poems,
she's catching a train,
she's driving kids to basketball matches,
she is handing out programs
to theatre patrons ...
old shapes glimpsed behind the new.
But the city and I have moved on.

My first home town was Launceston, Tasmania, where I lived until I was 15. I spent 30+ years in Melbourne, from young adulthood to late middle age, and have only had 20 so far in my present home in the Northern Rivers region of New South Wales, where I expect to see out my days.

Linked to Poets United's Poetry Pantry #270


  1. So poignant, Rosemary - the memories of that young mother, writing poems and driving kids about......I felt that way visiting my home town last time, some of the houses I had lived in torn down, the city itself transformed into an urban yuppie mecca, no longer the sleepy little orchard town it was. I love the color and visuals in your poem, so vivid, and the wonderful photo at the bottom.

  2. Rosemary, this poem hits home for me too. When I visit my hometown, sometimes I will get lost...not remembering how to get from one place to another, places which were once so familiar. Yes, and I know what you mean about the ghosts too...often ghosts of myself at a younger age or people I knew once but no longer know. Yes, we do move on from our cities... Actually this was a very poignant poem to me, Rosemary.

  3. the poignant tone touches me deeply...somewhat similar happens to me too when i visit my hometown...the change in the place and in self is amazing, isn't it?...

  4. This is indeed poignant. How sad we feel whether it is our hometown or the city that was our life for so many years grows up as we do too. Where is it gone? We ask then glance in a mirror and find that person we were has gone too.

  5. Feel pretty much the same when I go back to the city I grew up in...memories in every corner..but detached...

  6. 'never go back' my grandmother used to say - all that looking back can turn one to salt! Your poem rushed us through the streets of memories in a lovely lilting way ending with some resolution. "cold winds kicked up stones" - speaks volumes!

  7. Such a beautiful & heartfelt poem :)

  8. Revisiting places is a strange phenomenon...almost like trying to revisit ourselves as we were..maybe the place we are in now reflects us or we reflect the place we are in - I particularly love the last verse..She is writing poems...perfect!

  9. I can be so alienating to return to the old hometown, and it's sad to see that the building where you spend some beautiful time, has been knocked down.

  10. "But the city and I have moved on" : this can be so true, Rosemary.
    i find this a really poignant poem. We find some attachment to those places that we have lived.

  11. The nostalgia in this poem is just so heart touching. No matter which part of the world you are in the feelings towards a old city is same :) lovely

  12. I had a similar experience with the town that I grew up in. They moved street lights on me. One of the main roads shifted just a bit. Little tweaks and the town I once called home, is totally different. The people move on a bit as well - once you are gone for a while.

  13. Rosemary - this poem hit me hard and beautifully - tears sprang to my eyes... It is poignant but it is also a testament to the wonderful way you are able to both hold on to the past and you swallow the delicious present of the moment. Bravo!

  14. I love the observations you have written on your poem Rosemary. It sets the tone on what our past / present looks like if compared. Such a tender testimonial to one's self

  15. Oh, I can imagine how it's challenging to revisit the place where you spent young years....resonates...I can only imagine....I never done it....but to see the positive in these changes one must have the farsighted view and big heart...I guess.. ~ Many years wish you in your current place!

  16. I enjoy how this poem moves from vibrancy through indifference to slowing down to a speed as if traveling through your life on a rush of time. Wow! I have moved so often as gypsy and then academic--and being childless--I experience my places a little differently, and yet I have the same sense of looking in to a gallery/film of other me's.

    1. Not to mention the seasonal allegory of youth and age. Gosh. Such skill and truth.

  17. I specially love reading the first three lines, lovely lines. The whole poem, I think, is so well paced. And expertly written as a personal narrative. I like its matter of factness; the poet as witness to their own life changes, without any touch of maudlin regret. And the poet as witness to the special characteristics of place and season. Thanks for the read, from Linda

  18. Thanks for sharing your nostalgia so beautifully. Glad you had a nice visit

    Sunday smiles

    Much love...

  19. Nice. I really enjoyed how you describe the city while inserting much of your own story here. You don't just revisit the places, but revisit your memories. I enjoyed this very much Rosemary.

  20. It is hard to go back to those places one grew up in and see everything has changed. Gone are the places that held so many memories, but when I look in the store windows I still get a glimpse of the girl who knew it when it was all so simple.

  21. A beautiful share! Thank you!

  22. This brought back memories of when I return to places of my past..places I have lived...where I was born....and they are so different....I have moved on but it is a bit melancholy. Beautiful words and thoughts Rosemary!

  23. I know all of these feelings. I moved back to the city of my birth and youth, after living elsewhere for almost forty years. It is surprising, confusing, even scary at times because the past often rises up and envelopes the present, then promptly disappears again. Thanks for sharing this one,


  24. Yeah it feels different going back after years away. Even if it hasn't been all that many.