He taught me how to somersault



The Balance Beam
Balance is noticed most when almost failed of
Jane Hirshfield, ‘Balance’


He taught me how to somersault,
Shamed me with his arithmetic,
Built me a balance beam:
Measured out its length, width
And depth, planed the Oregon
Exact and smooth and safe.
He set it above the ground,
Let me practise, practise, practise:
My body weighted all its edges,
Open to his eyes, the air, the sun.


for Jan Owen 

Action beyond their scent—
they walk on air,
gesture in every direction. 
Orange, cream, pink and red,
they are girls
in women’s dresses, running—
their eyes have no time to blink,
each centre wreathed
in spiked gold lashes
as if while inside their insect bud
they learnt
to sketch the sun.
Discovered in 1977: Petrogale persephone
But I prefer Hades where I am more than just a pretty girl …
—Ron Koertge, ‘Persephone’
Her pelt is mauve-grey: uncombed as smoke.
The moment her young empty her milk pouch,
a foetus grips her fur. Her paths engrave the understorey––
she flirts with gardens. But pink flowers are a threat
and blindness infests the slipstreams of cats.
Once she dissolved into rainforest, invisible
(to science) until the year we discovered
how a bomb preserves urban habitat,
and a satellite transported a filigree of stars
to prove Miss Universe was black.
Instructions for Weaning a Baby
Tell her it’s overrated.
Tell her she will learn to love the taste of salt—
salt on her tongue, grit of the ocean.
Tell her, in the morning the sea is milk.
Tell her about the sea-line—
where the sea and the sky seem to meet.
Tell her, in full summer, naked on a beach,
the sun drenching her skin is not unlike
a flood of milk. 
Tell her many things
are warm and silky in spring.
Tell her to drink an armful of roses.
Tell her to slice a peach from its skin,
let it melt on her tongue,
find a way to that room—    
amber-lit as a jar of peach jam
just cooling in a pantry.
The Price of Honey
Her jewelled head lies low
in this gold-tessellated chamber.
Everywhere she looks, she sees 
the sisterhood; there’s no way out—
her wings have forgotten flight.
She pulses with eggs
at the heart of this strange
masonry of molten flowers.
One of her royal daughters wakes,
stings her sisters while they sleep;
shrill with treason,
the maiden bees mob 
and butt their ancient queen— 
until her body explodes with heat

Susan FealySusan Fealy is a Melbourne-based poet and clinical psychologist. Her poems appear in many journals and anthologies including The Best Australian Poems 2009, 2010 and 2013. She is developing her first full-length collection.

Somersault image by Shutterstock.

Topic tags: Susan Fealy, modern Australian poems



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Existing comments

Such beauty and perception. Quite stunning. I can't wait for your first collection to be published. 'Instructions for Weaning a Baby' my favourite by a breath.

Anne Jeffs | 21 July 2014  

Dear Anne, Thank you for such positive comments.They are much appreciated. I could not hope for better encouragement to keep working on the book!

Susan Fealy | 26 July 2014  

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