Born in London, Sue Stanford currently lives in Melbourne, but spent 15 years
in Japan. She has been writing for 10 years and her poems have been widely
published in Australia. Recent poems have appeared in Heat, Overland, The
Heron's Nest
, nthposition, and the anthology Best Australian Poems 2004.


Magnolia blossoms
twist on naked boughs
so slowly their movement
is invisible.
But they are peeling
like the tumescent skin
of an exotic fruit.
Turned inside out
the creamy cheeks within
fold over curved exteriors
as purple as the womb.

Likewise rich
alimentary tissue curls
to colour your lover's mouth.
Those vivid lips
browse at the groove
beneath your nose.
There is no word for it,
but mesh of tongue on tongue
as perfumed petals
flutter to the ground.


You bloom
and pollen streams
out of your trumpet, quietly.
It dusts long
the line of my left shin.
Scents and powders me.
The gentle breeze
wafts me above the earth.
I'm spinning, slow.
The cursive profiles of my head-to-toe
revolve, like rise and set.
And still you stream,
my disappearing limbs
in reappearing oranges and reds…
coral, vermilion, ruby, crimson
And as I bloom
the stippled pollen shows,
the patterned contours
of my surface heat.
Each grain sends out
its fertilizing tubes.
They penetrate my skin
while the new roots
are whorling from my feet.

A View of the Island

Early evening. When the sky becomes
a wash of luminous blue a few gulls swoop
and play on the updrafts. They lift
off from the flock's noisy quarreling,
into the last illuminated air. The tide
is in. The island, a little further out.
Its slopes are changing colour. It floats
and seems to swim as if the setting sun
took with it weight, pain, density from stone.

Below, a man whose tongue lolls from
his mouth, stands staring out at it.
He's spent the afternoon approaching
girls and women on the beach. Shunned,
he's mimed violent murder, conjuring weapons
by ballet aim, shoot and mouth the blare,
the swish and click, of realistic sound effect.
The more the pretty ones draw, hostile, apart,
the more he wants to violate a heart.

And now he watches as the falling dark
reveals the island's lightness out of reach.
A ferry ride would see that joy congeal
become a shabby port, as he drew near.
A scrape of metalled road beneath his shoe.
Located, beauty flees him, reappears,
twinkling in towns he spurned and left behind.
No rest, but to let distance intervene
and hover with it, grasp turned feathery.


Each day, she starts a new biography.
Two hours of reading, takes her through again
to middle age. Childbirth, betrayal, greed,
coincidence... sharpen her leisurely
morning with suspense. She's multiple.
Her body snug in bed runs her full gamut
of identities. Then getting dressed,
she'll somehow introduce the window's sunlight
into a dead man's vanished honeymoon.
It's her bird singing in his cage.

Later, surprised by love, she stops.
Eyes flicker, and restart the flow of words,
till drenched with loss her heart opens its fist.
She stumbles to the kitchen for a drink.
The tea bag swelling in her mug
lets go its sepias. Gone, in an instant
should she glance away to notice, again,
white tracks between the words.
Her quicksilver is on the mirror's back.

Sipping she loses everything at once
a fish in the current of her half-finished life
retaining facts long enough just to hang in there.

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