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