Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Yawn by Sarah Rice

Funny how a yawn travels through a room
a pied piper gathering all the rats

In that instant we all draw from the same source
a great swallowed gasp shoved into our lungs

like socks stuffed in a bag
and the long outward sigh

That we try to hide it up our sleeves
makes us culprits in common

like playing truant
with a friend

It’s mostly like this
our bodies that bind us together

despite talk of mind’s united
mutual goals – a Weltanschauung

No, more likely it is that we all pee
bare-footed in the night

with toenails that particular pale shade of shell
and a shadow pressed onto each heel

That at a certain point in the evening
we reel our shoulders in on tiny strings

to catch the small warmth of our elbows
and shrink our silhouette

We all lean the same way as the bus turns a corner
grow a wide-legged stance on a train moving

We all rise
on tip-toe

at the edge
of cold water

And sneezing scares us somewhat
those first few seconds when the breath comes in and in with no end

We know the mundane imperative of bowel
and the incredulity of a broken heart

Our bodies loosen in warmth or water
and we all leave hair on the pillow

We share in the first great O
our mouths make for milk at the start

And the milky grey our eyes
all turn at the end.

© Sarah Rice

Posted on The Tuesday Poem with permission.

Editor, Jennifer Compton

I wasn't aware of Sarah Rice or of her considerable mad skillz as a poet (amongst other things) until I went to the event celebrating the inaugural Ron Pretty Poetry Prize – and the minute I walked in the room and spotted her I went kind of wow! (At that stage I wasn't aware her poem Speaking bluntly had won.) But there was something about her aura that took my eye. And her witty bumblebee ensemble of yellow and black – not quite Iris Apfel, but on track – certainly took my eye. And then she read her poem (well she knew it off by heart) and again, quite something.
Ron chose her poem as the winner - "for the sustained brilliance of its imagery, for its unity, and for its imaginative insights into the nature of language." Since then I have read a lot more of her work and I plan to read a lot more before I am done. Her take on things, her eye, her sense of equilibrium,
her insight into the human condition, they are all very more-ish indeed.

Ian Gibbons, Sarah Rice in yellow and black, Ron Pretty, Anne M. Carson, Steve Armstrong.

Sarah Rice is a Canberra-based art-theory lecturer, visual artist and writer, who co-won the 2011 Gwen Harwood poetry prize, and won the 2014 Bruce Dawe poetry prize, amongst other awards. Her limited-edition, art-book of poetry Those Who Travel (Ampersand Duck, 2010), with prints by Patsy Payne, is held in the collection of the National Gallery of Australia. Her poetry has been published in numerous journals and anthologies, including Award Winning Australian Writing and Best Australian Poetry 2012. Yawn was short listed for the Montreal Poetry Prize.

Listen to Sarah read her poem.

This week's editor is Jennifer Compton who lives in Melbourne. She is a poet and playwright who also writes prose. Her most recent book is a verse novella Mr Clean & The Junkie published by Mākaro Press.

In addition to today's feature be sure to check out the wonderful poems featured by the other Tuesday Poets, using our blog roll to the left of this posting. 


Helen McKinlay said...

love this poem's originality. And yet at the same time it is so tender so mindful of our shared humanity. A yawn will never be the same again for me. Thank you Sarah and thanks for posting it Jennifer.

Kathleen Jones said...

Another great choice, Jennifer!

Keith Westwater said...

A good poem - I love the extended metaphor re what binds us together. Thanks Jen and Sarah.

Helen Lowe said...

Wonderful! I really enjoyed reading this, if a little late in the Tuesday poem week. :0

Ben Hur said...

Great choice, Jennifer. Lots of amazing images. I particularly love these two couplets:

"That at a certain point in the evening/
we reel our shoulders in on tiny strings

to catch the small warmth of our elbows/
and shrink our silhouette"