Our se­nior mo­ments

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Books - Ali Jane Smith

My Father Crosses eats, his phys­i­cal abil­i­ties and fail­ings, even what’s hap­pen­ing on his com­puter screen; and how he feels about all of this. From his of­fice win­dow he looks down on a con­struc­tion site, the dis­turbed earth a re­minder of mor­tal­ity, but also a place of fe­cun­dity, though in Lehmann’s ur­ban set­ting fe­cun­dity means the bloom­ing of the sound and light of con­struc­tion work, rather than a pas­toral blos­som­ing.

Char­lotte Clut­ter­buck’s uses the ex­tended con­ceit Tricky Arith­metic of math­e­mat­i­cal equa­tions to de­scribe what could be called a love tri­an­gle, though the poem en­sures that the sit­u­a­tion seems any­thing but cliched.

Vera New­som writes of an old age that brings keen en­joy­ment in her poem Para­dox: “Young, we love, grasp / con­sume. Old, we savour. / And the taste sends us wild.”

Gwen Har­wood cap­tures the lit­tle­ness and big­ness of the par­ent-child re­la­tion­ship in her breath­tak­ing poem Mother Who Gave Me Life. Dorothy Porter’s poem Water­view Street dis­cov­ers the tran­sience of in­di­vid­ual ex­pe­ri­ence. Brook Emery hov­ers on the edge of tran­scen­dence, called back by the warm phys­i­cal­ity of a grand­child, with “tan­gled hair … or­ange as a mimic sun”, their shared joy in the world and one an­other surely tran­scen­dence enough.

Su­san Hamp­ton shows that some­times wis­dom is about ques­tions, not an­swers, in Ban­quet of the In­vis­i­bles, while Julie Cheva­lier’s The Fall re­minds us that it’s never too late for ro­mance. Carol Jenk­ins’s Birth Co­hort has fun with the idea of shared gen­er­a­tional ex­pe­ri­ence, and Alex Skovron raises a laugh from the dead in Some Pre­cepts of Post­mod­ern Mourn­ing.

Many of th­ese po­ems face hard things, some in­clude mo­ments of in­tense en­joy­ment, some are de­li­ciously funny.

Other po­ets are even bold enough to treat age­ing as some­thing apart from an in­tractable prob­lem. To hint at the idea that hu­man be­ings, a species that has evolved to in­clude grand­par­ents, might ben­e­fit from hav­ing el­ders.

is a poet and au­thor.

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