Prodigal father


The stage

Every actor aspires to play the role of Jesus;
if the part is taken, they will set their sights on the role of Judas.

–Damian Balassone

Doubting Thomas

Frankly, I could not bear to watch what
they did to him — the whips, the insults,
the hammering in of nails. So I snuck off
here, hopes shattered, to lick my wounds.

Now they beg me to go back to see him —
surely something beyond belief. At least
mine. I'm a realist, not into sentiment or
apparitions. There needs to be a body.

Today the clouds hang heavy with doubt.
The others may be deluded. But if — and it's
a big if — I see him, touch actual wounds,
then I will kneel before him, and adore.

–William Rush

The woman with the alabaster jar

She knew the lines of a man's back
as well as she knew the taste
of decanted fig-wine, or the way the spine
girdered the back under her hand;
an uneven scaffolding of flesh under fingers.
It was a gentle gift, this. Acquired slowly
in the stones arranged on her mother's grave,
in the deep vault of her hip against his.
Dipping like water, she learnt to press libations
into her hair — lavender, dill, coriander;  
to twist strands against the frame.
There was salvation in this. And Art too;
that fingers still wet from mulberry
could etch a form of truth on the skin,
like the rim of flung-coin, or the
consolation of Spring oranges and their spurting.

But the truth of them has been forgotten.
His dirty feet and tired eyes, her hennaed-thighs
in sandalwood and linen, how she swung her hips,
how his loneliness was an atrium arching from his chest
to the lip of the buttress; aching for her to unfurl her hair.

–Davina Allison

Easter Fire

my longing
to share this meal with you —
kneaded and fired
in the company of friends

in the olive grove
shouts and flaring torches
rupture the darkness —
odd, the fear roused by a man
who seems so ordinary

faces firelit
huddled against the cold
cheeks burning
with shame I recall that night
I said I didn't know you

carrying sadness
like ash from her cold hearth
she waits by his grave
blinded by the rising sun —
he calls her name

from the brazier
in the darkened courtyard
hands pass fire
giving each shadow
a familiar name

–Anne Benjamin

Prodigal father

All day,
every day
since you have gone,
I stand on the road
shading my eyes
from daylight's
harsh reality
— you are gone,
too far away
for me to see.
How harsh
is your reality?
Can you see
a shadow of dusk,
a portent of gloom
wishing your spirit

All night,
every night
since you have gone,
I've kept the light burning,
warming my liquid eyes
from night's
cold comfort
— you are gone,
too far away
for me to see.
How dark
is your darkness?
Can you see even
a pinprick of light,
a star of hope
guiding your spirit

This day
I am on the road again
when I see
in the distance
a cloud of dust,
of hope —
and I start walking,
my heart skipping
to see if it's you.
How light
is your step?
Can you see me,
arms outstretched?
I am
on the road to meet you,
greet you,
singing your spirit

–Janette Fernando

Damian BalassoneDamian Balassone is a Melbourne poet whose work has appeared in various journals, magazines and e-zines. He is currently working on a second collection.

William RushWilliam Rush is a Melbourne writer whose poems have been published in Australia and overseas.

Davina AllisonDavina Allison is an ESL teacher and PhD student. Her PhD in text linguistics focuses on the nexus between non-native speakers, social justice, and academic writing. 

Anne BenjaminAnne Benjamin has won awards for her short stories and her educational publications and has had some poetry published. She works part-time as a consultant and is Adjunct Professor within the School of Leadership Australian Catholic University Strathfield.

Janette FernandoJanette Fernando is a casual relief teacher, poet and editor. Since 2007 she has been Managing Editor of Poetica Christi Press and last year co-edited Reflecting on Melbourne, a coffee table book of poetry, artwork and photography about Melbourne. 

Topic tags: new australian poems, Damian Balassone, William Rush, Davina Allison, Janette Fernando, Anne Benjamin



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Existing comments

Wonderful to have such a feast of imagination and feeling . May we see much more of such offerings in the future .

Michael Ansted | 31 May 2011  

A child of mine struggles with mental illness. When I read 'The Prodigal Father' I felt strengthened in the knowledge that I am not alone as I wait anxiously for her to return. I am not alone in wondering about the reality of her darkness. I am comforted knowing that in some mysterious and beautiful way she will hear the love that calls out to her no matter how dark her reality and she will return. Thank you for the hope.

teresa | 03 June 2011  

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