Welcome to Eureka Street

back to site

School walk in German winter


Selected poems


Sea pinks

'not growing as much when challenged
by severe exposure to wind'
— Irish Independent

Also called thrift
because expert at
doing without,

they will subsist,
manage with less
than your minutest

attention, no
luxuriant flourish,
will stick to

crevice or niche
if that's on offer —
rock splits with so much

close focus or
perseverance — such
spots of shy colour

in the cheek of this
grey day and portent
may draw the blank gaze

only a moment,
nameless — if electric,
mere undercurrent

we won't pick
or pick up on,
though gracing each chink

I put my foot in,
backing off the way
I came, their mute feminine

demeanour may
mislead you to think
wallflower, violet, but they

will not shrink.


I've grown used to this:
the tap, the rattle —
learned to dismiss
the insistence, and say

the raven, near mating,
mistaking his reflection
for some insufferable rival
who must be neutralised

at once, cracking his fragile
self-image, exact match,
prising up tiles like scales
or flakes of my skin as I feel

this house begin to fit me
impervious, I trust, hoping
he makes no headway,
almost successfully

fending off incursion
or even the suggestion
that I am in any way
at risk, indifferent, convinced

these rumblings mean nothing,
so that I wholly miss deliveries
intended, the postie, for instance
rapping insanely, trying repeatedly

and finally giving up on me.

Second siege

... feel the roots of the house move, but sit on ...
— Ted Hughes, 'Wind'

It begins by night
when you think to be private,
think nothing can call you out

but this brazen gale
lays waste to all
willed peace or rest;

you toss, lost vessel,
and roll, and reconsider
what you are doing here —

had you forgotten
these soul-winters, the way
they strike and blight every

good intention — yet
yours is a strong house, stone
and slate, and every creak

already accounted for
through many a bleak year
that still in turn saw summer

and should see more,
nothing that lies loose or
unmastered about this place

so why the blank ache, paralysis
at a merely exterior shriek
as if it might herald collapse

and all you can do is wait?

School walk in German winter

Our one star has departed
We're wholly dark
The clouds are shedding
Pretension to friendliness
Flake by flake
Which of us guides the other
Across this glassine surface
That blanks every letter
Deadening words
Who is that figure
Globe-headed, dirndl-skirted
Vacant hand-holder
The street-sign makes Mother
Her little familiar
When you were born
The ground had taken
More than a dusting
We were locked in
But not forever
Now you are thirteen
Age of reversible prime
And happy number
Of fact not rumour
Or superstition
Of getting up again
And walking onward
Of facing down
The downward forces
The Niederschlag


Tracy RyanTracy Ryan is a Western Australian writer whose latest book of poems is Hoard (Whitmore Press, 2015). Her most recent novel is Claustrophobia (Transit Lounge, 2014)..

Topic tags: Tracy Ryan, poetry



submit a comment

Existing comments

I love the way these poems are written, especially "Second siege". Thank you!

Jena Woodhouse | 05 July 2016  

Poems to be read with care and read again and again. Multi-dimensional meanings encapsulated in simplicity. These poems soothe wearied souls.

Cheryl | 06 July 2016  

Love the way these poems roll on carrying a sense of desolation and experience, interacting with and insightful of the natural world. Thank you. They do indeed provoke several reads and thoughts.

Tru Dowling | 12 July 2016  

Similar Articles

Worn and wasted by election day shambles

  • Ellena Savage
  • 08 July 2016

The OIC makes a dramatic speech about the integrity of live ballot papers, that there will be no repeat of the Western Australian kerfuffle, that we have our booklets that contain all the answers (and many typos, too). He seems nice. Maybe a little skittish. Not someone I'd imagine would be hired to run an office or manage a kitchen or even wait tables, but he must know what he's doing. This speech is the last demonstration of authority I witness on this day.