States of Poetry 2016 - TAS | 'Part of the main' by Jane Williams

Part of the main

 

is what Donne wrote when he wrote about men
not being islands and what I’d been thinking
when my friend posted the photo.

Our Lady Help of Christians, Grade 1 -
thirty five six year olds in pigeon grey
with a hint of ascension blue.

Those faces exactly as I remember them -
crushed or beaming, self contained, apologetic,
all burgeoning with mimicry and invention:

the bully, the nanny, the comic relief,
smooth talking con artist, nail biting altruist -
each praying for some kind of fit.

Singing when we thought no one could hear,
inflating fraught hearts until we were sure
there was no more to life than this floating.

Private wish lists and secret codes, our world
internal, eternal, by invitation only,
the bright guileless day dreams, the terrors of night.

It was the year Janis followed Jimmy all the way
down and out and the Vietnam birthday ballot
drew Australian names like bad pennies to war,

the year our parents took to shaking or hanging
their heads, looking at us, just looking at us in ways
we had to trust but couldn’t begin to understand.

Jane Williams

Jane Williams

Jane Williams

Jane Williams’s poems have been published widely since the early 1990s. She is the author of five collections of poems and one of short stories. Her most recent book is Days Like These: New and selected poems. Awards for her poetry include the Anne Elder Award, the D.J. O’Hearn Memorial Fellowship, and the Bruce Dawe Prize. She has read her poetry in several countries including United States, Ireland, Malaysia, Czech Republic, and Slovakia. While best known for her poetry, she enjoys writing in a variety of forms, combining photography and creative writing and collaborating with other artists. She has a Masters of Creative Writing from the University of Canberra and coedits the online literary and arts journal Communion with her partner Ralph Wessman.