I am delighted to introduce the poetry of Kate Deller-Evans. Kate is the last Guest Poet for 2006. Thank you to all the poets for their contributions, and the readers for their feedback and encouraging comments.
Kate Deller-Evans is acting coordinator of Professional Writing at the Adelaide Centre for the Arts (TAFE South) and a creative writing doctoral student at Flinders University. Her poems have been published in journals, magazines and two collections: Travelling with Bligh (in New Poets 7) and Coming into the World. With Steve Evans she edited Another Universe: FS Poets 28, (Wakefield Press) and their Best of Friends collection (soon for publication) is a 30-year retrospective of Friendly Street Poets. She has an affinity with the visual arts and a number of her poems have been illustrated – exhibited in South Australian Living Artists (SALA), as part of an artists’ book and on a canvas, currently hanging in a Stirling cafe. Her poems have been described by Jeff Guess as “surprising, moving, charged with emotion and beautifully wrought”.
At the Hospital Cafeteria
Overflowing, like the carpark
It’s an atmosphere
alien to counterparts
outside the health system.
Where else could you
be seated next to a man
wearing only a dressing gown?
The industrial-strength trolley girl
measures a smile
across our burdened table—
colouring-in books, textas, crayons
designed to allay frustrations
of little ones, impatient
for a grandmother’s return
—she’s upstairs, giving blood
ahead of the dose of chemo
never designed as a cure
but to calm the hacking cough,
companion for the coming months (not years).
You must choose whether you want your last days
to be busy with the regimen of such treatments,
the brochure says.
Air stirs as the mid-shift crowd leave
odd folk crowned with paper
shower caps, spider-spun.
At every table of those left
at least one of each pair
there is talk of procedures, operations
—the word dead floats by.
It’s a one-stop-shop
heck, there’s even Keno
and an endless queue.
More happens here than in most malls
it’s a microcosm
all hopes and fears.
My mother arrives, resigned
another hour to wait for results
before the first infusion.
at first it doesn’t look too bad
she does a head count: is one of five parents
more than the usual to wrangle the little beggars
but on the train into town the other adults
are a gaggle down one end
and she’s lumped with the left-over boys
already plotting their fall
but they’re not hopeless, she tells herself
and commits their names to memory
so she can bawl them out, as she’ll inevitably do
sometime down the track
at the concert she has the misfortune
of sitting next to the mother-of-the-biggest-thug
who is preening her son, ignoring his fat elbow
as he winds the small boy beside him
they’re not a receptive audience
their upbringing unused to such occasions
more the sort to make good football crowds
not delicately clap hands when the singing’s done
when finally they spill out onto the scrap of lawn
and minimal shade under hot sun
she tears the metal wrap from two dispirin
dissolves them in her child’s drink-cup
awash with brown lime cordial
wishes she’d brought her own
laced it with brandy
medicine for the return journey
fighting all the way
the light is sulphur-yellow
dawn gone golden
ominous, with the birds berserk
screaming tree to tree.
I’m drawn to see what the fuss is
– apart from the odd-coloured sky –
away from my desk and the work
I don’t want, anyway.
Across the road it’s there –
massive arcs of a double rainbow,
vibrant hues of my five year-old’s palette;
she should be here.
I want to wake the entire family,
have them witness, too, this peculiar scene:
the rumble of thunder coming like airforce heavy transports
on a mission to our house.
Then the first fat splot of rain hits my head,
then another and another. Not warm, as they should be
– after days of heat –
but cold as bullets.
And I’m back inside the house,
unplugging the computer,
putting on the kettle, wondering how
I can face the ordinary day.
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