Luminous and other poems. Brenda Saunders


     after ‘Sea and Sky’ Peter Sculthorpe
     duet for clarinet and piano 

I see a curlew 
in the whiteness 
of a false dawn 

Her reedy call 
inches ahead                                               
skims calm bays  
sleeping islands

wakes an ocean 
inside me

Pitched high 
a piano slides
over glassy waters

I hear notes drop 
light as spray
on wings 
in flight 

a flurry of birds
calls up the sun

the sun in me 


     after ‘Sydney by Night’ by Brett Whiteley 

He stretches a canvas of midnight blue
frames his window on the water below
Curves his balcony in filigree white

Wide-eyed his studio opens to sounds 
on the night air, magic curves the bay                        

Palms blur into shadows deep as indigo
a jetty swings out from Wendy’s garden 

He waits for a blacked-out sky 
watches currents move dark to light

Paints the harbour into view

With liquid lines he draws shallows silver 
as the moon. Streamers of zinc white 
leap the bridge, trail in a ferry’s wake 

Light pinpricks boats moored in the bay
ring the city’s distant shoreline 

It is summer in the city of sun and light 
Chinese lanterns swing on pleasure craft
Yachts, cruisers tinkle the evening in

Luna Park roars a welcome

The Opera House dances on water, plays
his signature tune in a corner of sky  


There is wild delight, frenzy in the garden 
in November. Summer has already run riot 
over plants crowding the fence line
Cicadas have set up their steady droning
Viridian paints a whimsy of pure colour 
in overgrown corners, on green turf lush 
from overnight rain. A breeze startles
the air with a splash of lilac. Spent blooms 
ring the ground, vibrate a fallen echo 
Even the sky is weighed down with clouds 
of humid light. Thunder breaks, a storm  
threatens somewhere out of sight.

About the contributor

Brenda is a writer and artist of British and Wiradjuri descent. She has published three collections and her work appears regularly in selected anthologies and journals including Westerly, Overland, Southerly and Australian Poetry Journal. She was awarded the 2014 Scanlon Prize for her collection 'Looking for Bullin Bullin' and in 2018 she won the Ooodgeroo Nunnucal Prize and the Joanne Burns Award ( Spineless Wonders). Brenda is currently completing a new collection concerned with changes to the Australian environment since colonization. She reviews for Westerly, Plumwood Mountain, VerityLa and Mascara.

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