Just heard from the editor of ‘The Northerly’, The Byron Bay Writer’s Festival magazine The Northerly, that he has published my poem in the current issue (p22). I was prompted to write this poem by the Volunteer Poetry competition, again organised by the dynamic poetess and creative, Louise Moriarty. This festival’s theme was ‘Where stories take you’ and the competition theme was ‘birds’. I didn’t get it finished in time to enter the competition, but last year the competition spawned ‘Updraft’, which won.
THE STORY BIRD
Jump onto her muscular back
grip hard with your thighs
as she wheels you gracefully, thrillingly
from here to there and
She will carry you
through the dark of death
to the ancestors
and the Good People*
both feared and revered
or fly you through black clouds to Iceland*
where the northern lights were an omen
blizzards rage for three days and nights
and it is a struggle to close the opened door.
Smell the stench of the prisoner,
battered and unwashed
Hear the crunch of the executioners boots
upon the fresh snow.
Cling, cling to her muscular back
as she weaves and swoops you
through the Dark Emu* in the night sky
to when stories began and ended with
‘We arise from the mother’s heartbeat’.
See this landscape
before the hooved animals
transformed the soil of yam fields
that stretched to the horizon
soil so soft, so well tilled that
horses would sink to their fetlocks
when floods were rare and wild fires unknown.
Ah take me ancient story bird
take me to that vast forest in Ecuador
where ‘the leaves of plants speak the rain’s language’ *
and ‘mosses grow like filamentous seaweeds in the open ocean.’
Take me soaring to the crown of the giant Ceibo (SAYBO) tree
so I can vibrate top to toe with
the Songs of the Trees.
Fly me story bird on your elegant, eloquent wings
woven with ancient words and visions
to wherever I need to go
I open the book
you open your wings
and we fly to
*1. Hannah Kent ‘The Good People’
*2. Hannah Kent ‘Burial Rites’
*3. Bruce Pascoe ‘Dark Emu’
*4. David George Haskell ‘The Songs of the Trees’
In the Festival Green Room I got to meet Hannah Kent and chatted to David Haskell and his wife, (all very gracious and lovely) though alas- a little bout of shyness caused me to miss my chance to chat to Bruce Pascoe! As you can see, ‘The Story Bird’ refers most particularly to the words of Bruce Pascoe, Hannah Kent and David Haskell. Such powerful speakers and books! Yay.
Next I scored some local schools show work through Byron Bay Writers Festival’s Story Board program for October which I am looking forward to enormously! I do love performing for and teaching primary school kids in particular.