Emma Carmody

Emma Carmody is working toward her PhD in creative writing and French at the University of Adelaide. Prior to commencing her doctoral project, she worked as an environmental lawyer in Sydney. She has also worked in a volunteer capacity with several NGOs that provide legal advice and support to asylum seekers. Her poetry, prose and translations have appeared in Australian and foreign journals, including the Australian Book Review and New Translations. She currently lives in the South of France.  





Divinité Khmère, Musée Guimet   


Flank entombed,  

A thew of root around her

Goddess waist,


She meditates on centuries,

Incubates the temple’s



There is no modesty

In the jungle:

Insects breed


Between her virgin thighs,


Monkeys take their pleasure

On her naked breasts,

And in a flush of humid green


Bamboo shoots

Quake about her feet 

Like nerve endings of the understory.  


What memories she must hold

Of another world,

Where each dawn was guarded


By the season’s alms, humble

On the altar,

The droning of the sutras –   


Her divine core.


Being so vital,

So sovereign to the shrine, 

She offered up her wisdom


Until suddenly,

Her naked arms severed,

The empire slain:


Rebirth in the wild.



The Ento(M)-uscian


Piano player. Hands agonised into
By ten you’d almost
Charmed an octave
(While I was chasing insects
With a salvaged net,
Suckling the nectar out of
Wildflowers). In a
Pool of light
You press needles
Into Apollo.
You explain:
The wings are clad
In scales of dye,
I observe:
The proboscis quavering
Beneath your weight.
Another day,
We listen to Liszt’s études in the kitchen;
You palpate the tune
Across my rib cage.
You tell me:
My right hand’s too stiff
For these studies
As I disrobe grapefruits for the salad,
Divest the flesh
Of seeds and rind.
In summer, we drive South.
In valleys that antler
Through fists of granite
And nimble scrub,
You hunt Lepidoptera,
Circling flowers in adagio,
Conquering with ease
The woman in the tent –
Your fragile prey.
                         Though there was
An evening in Cassis
When the cicadas,
Corralling the earth to their staccato
Spared a moth its genus
And I bunched
Wild herbs
Up in specimen jars marked

Parnassius Apollo, Polyommatus Eros.


The Shore Line 


Alone on the beach

with the lovely slaughter of evening’s

thrust: puffer fish, a slick of gull,

crushed shells. Between

open ocean and smaller things

I walk North, through fits of rain.

You stay inside.


Three urchins on my mantel now,

vestigial spines worn but keen. 


We grieved our loss on the phone last

week: the garden’s thriving, your brother’s fine,

may I visit? Such responsibility for

chance words, barely meant –


such tenderness, these killing fields

at lowest tide.