'Hypogeum of Hal Saflieni, Malta' by Annamaria Weldon | States of Poetry WA - Series Two

I went where she reigned
far underground, deeper
than roots, in rooms hollowed
by hand and bone, where curved walls
contained my breath like lungs.

              Passageways opened onto chambers
              honeycombed in stone
              where there was no light
              and blind air read my skin.

Who painted the womb-shaped
echo-chamber with ochre veins?
The spirals on concave walls seem
to move with sound waves, fluid
as amniotic water, persistent as blood.

               So far down, this far back, definition
               fades. We braille a truth, one version
               from things only guessed at.

In bone-dug bethels where perhaps
they incubated dreams, a woman
sleeps. In my palm, earth to earth
I hold her double: a small, clay statue,

                rotund buttocks, fall of ample breasts
                all luxuriant volume, prompting again
                the old question: is she diviner or divine?

Annamaria Weldon

Annamaria Weldon

Annamaria Weldon

Annamaria Weldon’s writing residency with Symbiotica UWA prompted the poems, essays, and photographs of Yalgorup National Park in her last book, The Lake’s Apprentice (UWAP, 2014). She has just completed her third poetry collection, inspired by Malta’s Neolithic temple culture. She researched and wrote during several visits to her birth island, most recently as 2016 Writer in Residence at St James Cavalier Centre for Creativity, Valletta. Annamaria’s previous collections were The Roof Milkers (Sunline Press, 2008) and Ropes of Sand (Associated News Malta, 1984). Her poetry has been published in Australian literary journals, anthologised, broadcast on Radio National, and has been staged in several collaborative projects including contemporary dance and art installations. Her awards include the inaugural Nature Conservancy Australia Essay Prize, the Tom Collins Poetry Prize, and a shortlisting in the 2016 Peter Porter Poetry Prize.