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Books & Poetry

Poem: The Familiar of Geese

Books & Poetry

In this week’s Poet’s Corner, Jan Price of Ballarat revisits place and childhood with the shepherding of her grandmother’s geese.

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On writing a poem called The Familiar of Geese

For the two years my parents were apart
I went with my father
to live in Landsborough
in the shire of Pyrnees
with his mother, my grandmother,
whilst my brother stayed with Mum in Melbourne.
I was eight, and my gran had a small farm
and although I was from the city
country life became free and sweet
and one of my chores was to go looking for the geese
and bring them home to Gran’s.
My grandmother was fair and loving
and she never once made me feel, I didn’t belong;
I later heard, she even cried after I left.
As to the title, there are things which remind me
of Landsborough, such as wheat-dust on summer air,
the sound of a crow’s taffeta wings flying overhead,
the trickling of creek water,
heat-haze’s shimmer on old roof-iron;
I could go on.
I’ve attached my bio, please draw on what you need.

The Familiar of Geese

There’s a country
road I take sometimes
in the damp season
when colours are richer-wet
and earth-scents of old
gum-nuts and last summer’s grasses;
pungent toadstools on mossy logs
and leaves un-dressing their flesh
fill me with sensuous freedom;
the only intruder,
gravel under tyres. It’s then
I have to stop;
down-wind the window;
realize it’s the same spot
on a grey bridge
of years ago when first I heard
the creek below
quietly babbling.
But winter wash had not appeared
so my breathing stopped to listen.
At first only splot splot to mulch
fell surplus mist from leaves and a crow –
it’s wide slow singular flaps un-echoing
taffeta in the hush. Suddenly again
the babbling
like children laughing
as the sun broke through
in a paddock just beyond
the remnants of a briar-tangled gate;
its rays silvered roof-iron;
offered impression of weatherboard and window;
rings on a water tank and a track
and on the track – three children laughing
waving long sticks as I once did
guiding geese
hissing flapping their disagreement.

The sun withdrew, the scene faded.

I still come, down-wind the window and wait…

Jan Price, originally from Melbourne, lives in Ballarat. A writer and painter, her poems and cover art have appeared in various literary journals, anthologies and newspapers in Australia, the US and UK. She has won and been shortlisted for a number of awards, including winner of the 2015 Society of Women Writers Victoria Biennial Poetry Competition, and the 2014 Geelong Contemporary Art Prize (artIS 12×12). Jan belongs to three Writers Groups, reads her poetry at poetry gatherings, and exhibits her paintings at art shows.

Readers’ original and unpublished poems of up to 40 lines can be emailed, with postal address, to A poetry book will be awarded to each contributor.

Poet’s Corner has been absent in recent weeks due to technical issues, but will return to its regular Wednesday slot from next week.


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