States of Poetry 2016 - ACT | 'Song of gratitude' by Sarah Rice

For the soft-handled horse-mane hair
of the half moon brush
The gleam of pewter, copper, glass.

For the carpet palimpsest of patterned lives
that lie layered in the deep pile – embedded
wine, coffee, blood, bread, skin, and ash.

For the possibility of preserving presence
and particularity in a photograph.

For the quiet reliability of maps that level
mountains, baptise stream and river
and christen streets. That make a flat
geometry of tower, plaza, town.
And tell you where you are
and where you are not
and where you are going
and how to get there.
That folds the city into squares.

For the iron will of the anvil
and other like instruments
that stay as they are and should be.

For tubes of paint and the infinite spectrum
that gives us sun yellow, yolk yellow
soft and safety yellow, sweet or sour and so on.

For luck on three legs, level tripod,
held steady so it doesn't run out,
with a knowledge the maker of stools
has over the maker of chairs.

For words, spoken, thought, written, read,
unsaid, drawn, erased.
For the silent letter, mute but needed
like the animating principle
that leaves the body lighter at death,
and is the weight of our final breath
The weight of silence lifted.


 Sarah Rice

Sarah Rice

Sarah Rice

Sarah Rice won the inaugural 2014 Ron Pretty Award, the 2014 Bruce Dawe Poetry Prize, co-won the 2011 Gwen Harwood Poetry Prize, and was shortlisted in the 2013 Montreal Poetry Prize and the 2013 Tom Howard Poetry Prize. Her poetry has appeared in Those Who Travel (Ampersand Duck, 2010), Global Poetry Anthology, Award Winning Australian Writing, Best Australian Poetry, Island, Southerly, and Australian Poetry Journal.

Leave a comment

Please note that all comments must be approved by ABR and comply with our Terms & Conditions.

NB: If you are an ABR Online subscriber or contributor, you will need to login to ABR Online in order to post a comment. If you have forgotten your login details, or if you receive an error message when trying to submit your comment, please email your comment (and the name of the article to which it relates) to We will review your comment and, subject to approval, we will post it under your name.