Francesca Haig

Francesca Haig’s poetry has appeared in Blue Dog, Overland and Famous Reporter and has been featured on Radio National’s Poetica. Her first collection of poetry, Bodies of Water (FIP, 2006) was highly commended in the 2007 Ann Elder Award. She has read her work at the Melbourne Writers Festival and Tasmanian Living Writers Week. She lectures in Creative Writing at The University of Chester, UK.



Dating a poet: a relationship in six stanzas

In making love
we unmake words.
Later, you take out your journal
and reconstruct language
under the strict tuition of your pen,
while I make out the graffiti of your chest hair.

The naked page.
How the sound of your pen on paper
is more intimate than any of the noises
we made last night.

You are a virtuoso:
who knew so much could be
done with syllables?
Your daredevil tongue.

You write only in free verse
but, at night, the perfect pentameter
of your sleeping breath.

I scour your words
as I have read other men’s faces, hands.
In all your poems, as with photos,
I seek myself out first
to see how I look.

I know your mouth
is a fortune cookie.
After three weeks I crack it open:
on that slip of paper, your tongue,
is her name.



Back in Texas, he understood perfectly
the logic of soil.
No good with letters or numbers,
by nineteen he was fluent in the tangible language of dirt:
planting time, the heavy satisfaction of
a good rain. The places
where clay makes the ground stubborn.
Knots in the earth, snagging the plough’s comb.

In Baghdad it’s the soil that confounds him:
how, west of the Green Zone, you could dig all day
and never strike wet.
How lightly the Tigris carries its silt load,
while the sandstorms make the horizon
sway like a cornfield.

Mud in the water,
sand in the air.

Over here, he’s betrayed by dirt,
and what it grows:
the sudden bloom of an explosion.
The reliable crop of car bodies.
Behind the burnt-out police van
that row of heads,
coming up like pumpkins.