Poetry by Kate McNamara



Be not unquiet

my wise dead son,

I’ll write your name again

in cobwebs.

You, who are so

implacably dead.


With what thin words

left to me, I’ll craft

another epitaph, veins

aching, clawing

at the ravaged, empty past.


And it is no long

journey, no memory

but a maze, hazardous.

It is the travel

of a colourless season.


But your life, so stormy,

gleams and leaps somewhere

beyond me, as if

a bright fish dreamt it.


So I’ll hunt the shoreline,

as some eagles would

be black and come alone,

I’ll hunt a feather,

think of nothing but the shell.


Fifteen summers, my first love.

Did they make you a man?

O Absalom, Absalom.



I have my words

     my talismans

           my shamans


but before you

      out of space

          out of time


I lay down

   your smooth bark

      the curve of your words


as you lie 

   sacred in time

     I caress your skin


we speak in air

  in blue leaves hissing

   beneath us your tendrils


weave a trace in time

so old   so old

I am young within you


as tiny as a notch

   in your gravid bark

       and I hear you


patient   as I speak

your name

Manniferous   manifest  magnetic


you have your own alphabet

   a syntax of   old Gods

     I will learn you


curator of memory

    consecration of time

        studded with stars


stay with me.

About the contributor

Kate McNamara is a Canberra-based poet, playwright and critical theorist. Her plays have been performed internationally. Her published works include The Void Zone (1999), Leaves (1999) and Praxis (1997) (Aberrant Genotype Press), and she is currently writing a memoir, The Burning Times. She has worked extensively as an editor and has recently returned to her first love, poetry.

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