It was the eagle that caught me;
one swoop and I was undone.
It was Lord Alfred who taught me
that rhythm’s our mother tongue,
in these lonely lands of Australia
where the sea hammers the shore
and the sun scorches the eagle,
so he hides in the shade of the tor.
Tennyson shared in my sorrow
and knew of my futile wait
at the door of one whom I loved
who had passed beyond the gate.
This craft has become my loom
and weft, and here I will stay,
unlike his maiden in Camelot
who abandoned all hope one day.
I didn’t realise how much I had missed
unintelligible sounds, like the lyrics of a song
overwhelmed by drums and bass guitars.
It had been so long since language from far
and foreign shores had channelled its strong
waves through my mind, brazenly kissed
my lazy ears, and awakened me again
to the staircase of tones in Cantonese
and the guttural r’s of German and French.
The clashing chords were enough to quench
my thirst; in my country town I’m ill at ease
with homogenous tunes, a single refrain.
In poetry, too, such music is sufficient:
without the sense, its beauty is preserved
like a piece of jewellery that serves no use,
and yet it sparkles. As words cut loose
their ties to function, praise is still deserved
for lines that dance where meaning is deficient.
Claire Watson is a Salvation Army Officer living in Murray Bridge. She turned to poetry after the death of her daughter Hannah in 2014, and her memoir ‘Fingerprints of Grace’ was published in 2017. Her poems have been published or are forthcoming in various Australian and overseas journals including Eunoia, The Lyric Review and Meniscus. Her manuscript collection ‘A Glimpse of Light’ was highly commended in judging for the 2022-publication Friendly Street New Poets competition.