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Across the machair


Two poems by Lorraine Gibson


Upon Reaching the Warp of Ennui,


stretched taut beyond capacity

my body longed

for unaccustomed possibilities.

I cast-off the binding purl

of praxis—unravelled into looser

thoughts, un-picked paths

towards a gentler weft.

Something whispered—habit,

habit, habit, (That little minx)

is hindering becoming.

So I ambled around the elliptical.

Seumas, my husband built

four walls. He said, ‘I’m

building us a home’.

I asked our chairs

‘Are you simply offering chairing

or tethering me

to sittability?’ I drew a line

under signs

and signifiers; I flowed

toward this susurrus

reject the a-priori.

Fellow traveller, I urge you

do not simply skirt the margins:

stride out across the machair, touch

freedom’s fruitful fabric.

By all means mosey

around the material: But,

for the love of God, always

digress, digress, digress.


Note: Seumas is a Scottish name meaning ‘The supplanter’. A machair is an expansive fertile grassland plain on the north-west coast of Scotland.



Echo of a Small Child


Whose hands, in sorrow

or superstition, having fed

on the folklore of luck and loss

concealed this poignant

human fragment

between the Silver City’s cobalt

sky and miner’s blackened

chimney hearth?

Whose infant foot,

long since stilled, tottered

in this torn and solitary

once vermillion shoe

across the rocky ochre ranges

of Broken Hill.

What of the hand

one century hence

that found this toddler’s echo?

What thoughts were brought

to placing it in view

within a new millennium

upon a mantelpiece

inviting speculation?


Note: This poem is a response to finding a small child’s shoe on a high ledge inside the brick chimney of our miner’s cottage in the remote outback town of Broken Hill, Australia. Broken Hill is the birthplace of BHP, ‘Broken Hill Proprietary’ which mined silver on the ranges from 1885. Hence, the town is known colloquially as ‘The Silver City’. The shoe is thought to date from the late 19th to early 20th centuries. Shoes were often hidden in chimneys to bring luck or, more commonly, as a means of warding off evil spirits or witches which were thought to gain access to the home via the chimney. In Europe and Britain, it is understood this ritual was undertaken as early as the 1300s until the early 20th century.


Lorraine Gibson lives on Birpai Country. Her poetry is published or upcoming in Backstory, Meniscus, Booranga fourW 32, Poetry for The Planet (anthology), Live Encounters, The Galway Review and others. Her book, We Don’t Do Dots: Aboriginal Art and Culture in Wilcannia, New South Wales is published by Sean Kingston Publishing:UK


Topic tags: Lorraine Gibson, poetry



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