A lifelong risk-taker and language adventurer, Pip Sheehan has been a wide-ranging wordsmith, community arts warrior, library sleuth, and mental health advocate. With poems in various journals, three collected poetry books, several zines, and having lurked in spoken word venues over a lifetime of word-harnessing, their poetry is imprinted by awe, isolation, clan, and travelling across songlines carved out living in far-flung regions, of Australian beaches, rainforest, and outback country, and New Zealand mountains and alpine lakes.
Sitting on the deck of memory
where timbers are slightly gapped
with nails rust-squealing wearily
against rain and time’s ravages
a dark ferned jungle undergrowth
tendrils up through stained boards
as we balance across covid-distance
planking hard skin-covered stories
my face turned to the shadows
of stolenness, the walkabout
global paths of six siblings looking
for songlines that do not sing
but of mental illness’s alienation
embedded, two sisters, a cousin
an ex, a husband, a daughter, myself
all able to request exact prescriptions
and of shaming since mother’s milk
so there’s not a mirror that doesn’t
talk to me of ugliness with sly lying
dialect syllables: warra, kino, grawna.
Tho’ not a day goes by I don’t circle
an Irish caim prayer around anamcara,
or recall Koori dancing at corroboree,
or remember respect for mana Maori.
This verandah overlooks bruised
horizons groaning with tomorrow
when my children’s children will ask
questions of me, what did you do?
I know they can’t hear us but feel
our souls leaking through the gaps
on the platform’s floor towards them
implanting in the roots and dark soil.
I meditate the sacred calling me
de-gravitate my body from the deck
walk down and under the stairs
inhale the organic detritus.
A staghorn messages a staccato
breeze forked onto a massive trunk
and ferns froth and fold all around
a primal playground noisily green.
Once a day, this moment, shafts
of sunlight vertically slide through
the gaps in the verandah slats
writing wonder in the paused air
that I’ve only known once before
in Moss Garden at Carnarvon Gorge
with my son two, my daughter four
where words were found on country
echidna platypus emu kangaroo
wallaby cuckatoo, brochured
a place with towering cliffs and
flowing crystal clear water
whose imprinted sounds are rings
in the bark of our family tree,
and the rainforest storm thunder
has tattooed rainbows into our skin.
© Pip Sheehan, 2020