‘Circle of Stones’

I was delighted to hear this morning that my poem Circle of Stones (written as Jo Mills) has been awarded Third Prize in the the Open Poetry section of this year’s Banjo Paterson Writing Awards, run by Central West Libraries in Orange, New South Wales (Australia). It’s an honour to have another poem place in this award, since I first entered it in 2008. That year, Walyunga won First Prize. This was followed by Ledge Beach (Third Prize, 2009), Orpheus, in the Desert (First Prize, 2011) and Crown of Stars (Third Prize, 2012).

To overseas friends who might not have heard of Banjo Paterson, he’s one of Australia’s most famous poets, who penned a great deal of what is known as ‘bush poetry’ or ‘bush verse’; a story or ‘yarn’ told in rhyming verse. He is most widely known as the author of Waltzing Matilda and The Man from Snowy River. Next year, Orange will celebrate the 150th anniversary of his birth with a festival, which I would love to attend. The award named after him certainly feels like an old friend.

With thanks to the judges and organizers of the awards.

Circle of Stones

her first circle is time

she squats in dust and draws a line

with her finger, never minding dirt

or cracked nails: the land waits

parched for new pathways

summer’s wane lets old sky breathe

arc of the sun tints grey sand

 

second ring is memory

ancient days when waugals swam

crystal rivers under bony hills

she still hears murmurs, wind underground

ones with Sight said rainbows ran through

caverns of amethyst and gold

she gathers bits of quartz and plants them

all around the sun

 

mother moonlight is the third

silver circlet of night’s queen

drips trails of pearls into the dark

stretching out her hands, lined deep

as weeping marri-bark, she catches

first raindrops of this shifting year

digs a pool inside the sun for his

lover, pale of face

 

fourth will be the eagle’s eye

clear, pure amber iris-ring

pupil filled with heaven’s wide blue

shot through incandescent rays

she sends a call that brings him dropping

to her wrist, chocolate feathers fanned

banded white like alpine snow

he gifts a quill, she sets it straight

 

last is fifth, the dreamers’ path

spiralling into the serpent year

see her bury the old shed skin

scales lit as petals of burnished hearts

red flowering gum, she lays a wreath

on grit and stone, she sings

of stars and promises, the circle breathes

beneath her feet, for love, for life

sweet unity

 

dedicated to the Eagle, with love 

The circle of stones, where I sat to write this poem.

The circle of stones, where I sat to write this poem.

Light Eagle

Light Eagle

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