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Books & Poetry

Poem: If on a winter’s night a traveller

Books & Poetry

In this week’s Poet’s Corner, Louise Nicholas shares a poem from her new collection ‘The List of Last Remaining’.

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If on a winter’s night a traveller

If on a winter’s night a traveller
should happen by my door, let him have
a Scrabble set tucked under one arm.
And when he says, I’ve found you at last,
let his voice be the deep rumble of thunder
rolling in from the sea because then
I’ll know that this is the wrong number
from ten years earlier when I rang a friend
to welcome him back from the States and got
instead the rumble of thunder rolling
in from the sea saying, thanks but
he’d never been to the USA and would rather
play Scrabble instead and would I like a game?
And although, back then in that playful time,
(when I said come on over, and he said see you soon)
I knew enough not to leave the porch light on,
still my dreaming mind got out the Oxford,
put the wine in the fridge to chill,
and curled up on the couch to await his arrival.
So if, after all this time, he insists
that foreign words are de rigueur, and if
he scores a miserable 21 points with ‘mop’
on the triple word score that I’d been saving
for a 105-point clean sweep of the board
with ‘jukebox’, and if he goes on to win the game
by placing an ‘s’ on the end of my ‘educe’,
I may, provided the thunder keeps rolling in
from the sea, slide his ‘s’ to sit smiling
in front of my ‘educe’, and then…
suggest we make it the best of ten.

Louise Nicholas was born in Port Lincoln, and currently lives in Adelaide. A former full-time teacher, she now teaches on a part-time and relief basis. Her poetry collection The Red Shoes appeared in the Friendly Street New Poets Series, Volume 3. She has also published four chapbooks, and in literary journals and anthologies, and is the co-author with Jude Aquilina of the collection WomanSpeak. She co-edited, with Rob Walker, the Friendly Street Annual Anthology Volume 30, and has been a guest speaker and reader at festivals, conferences and community events. Today’s poem is from her new book The List of Last Remaining, from Five Islands Press, University of Melbourne and which can be found here.

Readers’ original and unpublished poems of up to 40 lines can be emailed, with postal address, to A poetry book will be awarded to each contributor.

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