Lorraine Marwood

Lorraine Marwood is a Five Islands press poet and has two children’s books of poetry published as well as a verse novel with Walker ‘Ratwhiskers and Me’. Her latest verse novel ‘Star Jumps’ will be released in June 2009.  This novel really encompasses the influences of her poetry, the rural landscape and the surprising detail, all a way to celebrate life in words. Lorraine also writes poetry strategies and is available for workshops across all age levels. www.lorrainemarwood.com





Her pelargoniums, her little clucks of treasure

strong square ooze like catspray

fans of flowers like dragon wings

a wintering of wooden shelves

step laddering the back door alcove.


I came into her shuttered world,

I could call her grandmother.

She prodded, poked, admonished, preached

every word a lesson to decipher

a frost crunch world where shyness

was fashioned into stalactites that sharded

straight for heart.

She locked love up like Easter chocolate

turned pale with mothballs-

but here I offer

the sizzle of sausages

the sharing of her soft feathery

double bed, twin trunks up on the wardrobe top

smocked cushions

a cold electric fire

and Grimm’s fairy tales

signed with love from Nanny

bought at EJ Brown’s bookshop.


I have blown to dandelion seed her love of words

not restrained them with dire consequences-

wood smoke and finches

arch over my back door

and a tiny skink lizard

races over the melted frost

mid morning.

I come into her sunlit world.



Salt Desert Donkey


We visited once on these salt desert plains
her wooden sixty year old house
only tree shade around,
desolation of farming inheritance.
She kept a donkey when all the other
farming wives kept chooks or ducks
or snails in their gardens.
She fed grey ears and braying,
softness in the salt-grit landscape.
The donkey moved around the periphery paddock,
looking down on a barbed wire garden,
stunted irises and under the tankstand
a scraggle of marguerites.
And in the autumn when paspallum reared like tiger snakes,
she mowed the measured square of her backyard lawn,
tossing the grey sleet of grass
into the donkey’s paddock.
Neighbours whispered about the
useless animal, its awkward shape
how salt eats more than pasture and trees,
laps at the very foundation of wooden houses
shearing sheds, windmills,
                         but this farmer’s
wife knows the seawater drink
of their gossip and reasons
that a donkey is future insurance
for salt desert trekking.
Between tractor lights
and the first tenting pegs of sky
he looks out to the night
deep blue
with a scarf of cloud.
Stars trace the outline
of huge celestial tent,
incubator to his solitary thoughts.
It’s the one intense time of the year
when his temporal strand of humanity
feels the huge canopy of the unknown.
It’s not that he’s extraordinary,
he’s one of many; a time -worn
quantity of farmers out sowing the world’s
granary. It seems to him puny, slow,
awkward. The power of the tractor
sidles away to a cough. There above him
a star shoots, light cutting down through
the ridges of sky. He feels he could
put out his hand, squeeze the light’s shower
compress it like clay, tattoo his fingerprints,
but his reach is minuscule.
The fireworks spit and finish,
he turns the tractor and ploughs
another circumference of the paddock
he gulps in the night air,
believes he tastes stardust on his tongue.