Karen Knight

In this episode of Australian Book Review's States of Poetry podcast, Karen Knight reads her poem 'Atonement' which features in the

Casualties

(Willow Court Asylum, 1827-2000, New Norfolk, Tasmania)

 

Squatting in the bitumen
by the old mortuary
suckering weeds
of blackberry.

Around the hem
of the exercise yard
runtish holly.

Under the scum and stench
of the Frescati pond
rotting water ribbons
and frogs.

An ash sapling
tunnel ...

Atonement

 

I

This clutch of buildings
has long died
but the ghosts are still here
trying to find heartbeats.

We need to lie
the mirrors down
and take a hammer
to them.

Make a mandala
out of all this
scratched
and crazed glass.

This place needs
to be blessed
before the ghosts reach

Where am I?

 

I am desperate for connection.
I must have hit a black spot.
The sun is glaring at me and blinding
my display screen.
All I can see is my own face.
Coarse sand has crept between my toes.
I have wandered too far.
I need to google a map, text someone
who will reconnect me.
This shell, this sand, the smell of rotting ...

Karen Knight lives in Hobart. She has been widely published and anthologised since the 1960s, and has written four collections of poetry. The most recent, Postcards from the Asylum (Pardalote Press, 2008), won the 2005... ... (read more)