A6 32pp ISBN 978-0-9805088-0-2
$9.90 including postage
Slow skipping is Alison Thompson's first collection of poetry although she has been writing poetry with success for some time. Many of the poems in this collection have enjoyed success with publication and short-listings already including in the ArtsRush Poetry Competition, the Society of Women Writers National Poetry Competition and the Yellow Moon Nature competition and the Bruce Dawe Poetry Prize. Alison is based in the Shoalhaven and has read her performed her work at the Shoalhaven Poetry Festival, in Wollongong and in Sydney and has published widely in Australia.
Alison Thompson was born in Melbourne in 1965 and grew up in a small town in Victoria's Western District, moving to NSW to attend University in 1989. After working and travelling in Victoria, NSW and overseas she has, for the last decade been settled on the south coast of NSW, where she lives with her family. Alison has been writing poetry for many years and her poems have been published in several literary magazines and journals, including Blue Dog, Poetrix, Yellow Moon and The Weekend Australian Review. Her poem 'Frangipani' received second prize in the 2007 Society of Women Writers of NSW National Poetry Prize and 'Slow Skipping' was Highly Commended in the 2007 Shoalhaven Poetry Award.
She is one of the founding members of local poetry group, the Kitchen Table Poets, and along with other members, participates regularly in local literary events, including readings at the 2006 Sea Change Festival in Huskisson and at the biannual Shoalhaven Poetry Festival. In 2006 Alison was selected for a Varuna LitLink Fellowship for regional writers at Varuna in the Blue Mountains and joined other regional poets on the LitLink program at a reading in Katoomba, as part of the Sydney Writer's Festival. Alison attended Varuna again in 2007 on a LongLines fellowship and is currently working on a new poetry collection.
Six miles of funeral pace out to your place
the ungeared bike protesting like a bird
at the infinitesimal up,
threatening the whole while to bolt
across corrugations hammered into gravel.
Barely enough height gained to gain a view
to the basalt hills of the north,
the elephantine volcanoes of the south.
In the home paddock the wind would skate
across the evaporating lakes to cinch
you at the waist each time you left the house
while ibis and spoonbill
trudged and stamped through
the crystalline edges of the charcoal shores.
In the clean blue of the kitchen
I'd stitch my fingers around a cup of tea
and lean into the conversation
until the flush eased from my face.
Down in the orchard I'd help overload buckets
with persimmon and pears, apples and quince,
bringing the fruit back to the house in swathes
to wash and peel, quarter and soak.
Fridays would see you arriving at school
for religious instruction;
pulling up in the red and cream Hillman,
pausing at the gate to watch us skip, waiting
as the big rope torqued
lazily over our heads, listening
for the beat of our feet on the pavement.
Visiting you and your sister was like slow skipping;
a gentle rhythmic action
that eased the distance between generations.
After lunch I'd be let loose to wander.
Sometimes I'd be given a chore
but on the best days
you'd take the big key from the house and head down the back,
past the cypress blackened with crows
to the shed where we would stand in the dusty light
lifting the edges of the covers on the old machines;
the 1930s Dodge,
the reaper and sower and your father’s pride;
and the Sunday jinker, its black timber
still gleaming like a well loved horse. A decade ago
I answered the telephone to your eighty year old voice
how a man from the city had come
wanting to buy it and did I still want it?
I'd been twelve when I'd made the offer.
the door to the rest of the house
remained staunchly closed,
the sunlit walls of the kitchen brooking no shadows
of other lives, of fiances lost in war,
of children you might have had
had things been different.
All week you waited for Sunday.
At church you hovered like a mother hen, pausing
after the third hymn to steer us out of the dark
into the light
across the yard to the Sunday school hall. At times
I’d stay back to help you
clean the church, stacking prayer books,
dusting shelves, the hard presbyterian light
softened by the catholic reverence
of the stained glass windows,
your one indulgence
to pause now and again
and stare up at that glowing face behind the alter
asking for nothing.