How to handle diagnosis

Think the worst when the doctor calls you. Practise
your drama queen skills. Relax when she says it could
be one of several things. See the specialist and know
the worst. Keep listening after you hear it. Control
your tears when being examined / biopsied / patched
up. Drive home in silence with your husband; note
how he grips the steering wheel, how far you can turn
your head. Make a cup of tea and cook the pork chops
you’ve defrosted. Cry again when you’re then told
it’s spread. Find your husband who’s outside grouting
the wall; hold each other. Become calm; plant daisies,
keep your hair appointment, suggest cocktails
at the beach. Decide how to tell family; curse the miles
between you. And when a friend texts you’re strong,
you’ve got this
, break down in the walk-in robe.

from Venus, Ginninderra Press 2022


A year ago today my world was smashed
by a man in a suit and wire-rimmed glasses.
His voice was small and grew smaller.

Over the next nine months I lost my aversion
to needles and swallowing tablets
found I preferred my hair short.

So I take my husband out to dinner
like some macabre anniversary
because I feel the need to mark this path

from a place that howled to one made of bricks
where I savour the simplest things –
the sharpness of orange juice in the morning

how fast I can cycle with the wind behind me
watching the sun slip into the sea.

from Venus, Ginninderra Press 2022

Silver brumby

Hunted for the moon in his coat
he looks downriver
from tumbled rocks

like some sure-footed god

Wild and gleaming
he listens to what the wind
tells him

reads the snowgrass and skies
makes a deal
with the coming storm

that he will lead its lightning
when they track closer
make them believe

they chase nothing but a ghost

from more than here, Ginninderra Press 2019


Curved glass is split into panels
each holds a pair of hearts
one big
one small
dappled red and beating
against a backdrop of midnight.

I think of your arms around me
how when the world’s winds flux
in the wild dark falling
you quiet our corner
as we watch the tealight flicker
pool itself.

from more than here, Ginninderra Press 2019


And there’s a certain drawing down and I’m a child again,
fascinated as my nan hooks the chimney’s tongue

to pull breath from outside, tall the fire taller.
The creature in me burrows deeper, gnaws as if trying

to treasure my bones. I fever every layer of skin,
on turning leave a glistening trail like something in peril.

There is nowhere I can be, tremble in the in-between
when stars are being blinded by a melodramatic morning.

Seismic shifts curl me undone, river my youth,
the promise of it falling wordlessly, reaching to be held.

from A bellyful of roses, Pocket Poets, Ginninderra Press 2018

Endometriosis evolution

It ran through the family
like some Russian doll syndrome
when a century ago women
could be bedridden for days
passing what seemed like their entire insides
locked and moaning in unimaginable pain

And even on good days
they could feel the weight of it building
like some great tidal wave
with nowhere to break

They never named it back then
this “malady of menses”
and as time went on
things were discovered to help
a hot bath
a cold compress
the odd howl at the moon

And now it’s her turn
with a bellyful of scars
from where they’ve repeatedly cleared her out
careful not to mess
with parts now stuck together

But like her mothers before her
although she will never be one
she does her best to balance
a seesaw of hormones
pictures a rose imperfectly frozen and a moon
its twin long gone
lamenting an impossible orbit 

from A bellyful of roses, Pocket Poets, Ginninderra Press 2018

The astronomer’s wife

I fell into the Moon last night
quite by accident
explored all its scars and shadow
its dust on my lips like a promise.

And after we swapped numbers
I slipped out
as the Milky Way had arrived
and lay yawning over the exit.

I had to take a look though
at the life you can never show me.

from What the water & moon gave me, Pocket Poets, Ginninderra Press 2016


Stronger than me you keep me tidy
undo the gather

that can tighten my chest for days.
You kiss my squalls

make them draw breath
hold my sides while I spill myself over

and then after
bring back some ballast. Without you

my worries would thrive
like anemones.

from What the water & moon gave me, Pocket Poets, Ginninderra Press 2016

Visiting hours

Her hands don’t belong here
bewildered starfish beached on the table.
She wants to put them away
with the napkins and knives.

When the doorbell rings she answers the fridge
confused and then thrilled
to see her teeth grinning back.

She thought it’d be her daughter
nods polite to the woman who’s stolen her name.

Later she remembers the time
shuffles in slippers to find it again.

from Smashed glass at midnight, Picaro Poets, Ginninderra Press 2015


She wonders how she got here
sees no sign that she should be.

They look in on her often
in their coats with their pens making waves
on their papers.
She stares back
her eyes full moons with the heart cut out.

Sometimes she puts on a show
sends their note-taking mad
her hands restless spiders make nests in her hair.

Mostly she waits
moves her words to her fingers
touches her mouth when she wants to speak
her voice like smashed glass at midnight.

from Smashed glass at midnight, Picaro Poets, Ginninderra Press 2015