Gillian Telford

Gillian Telford is a NSW poet who lives on the CentralCoast. Her poems have been published regularly in journals including Blue Dog, Five Bells, & Island & her first collection Moments of Perfect Poise was published (Ginninderra) in 2008. Longer poem sequences have twice been shortlisted for the Newcastle Poetry Prize & published in anthologies The Honey Fills the Cone (2006) & The Night Road (2009). In 2010 she worked in collaboration with choreographer Francoise Angenieux & composer Solange Kershaw on Poetica: Five Arrivals which featured as a regional event in the Sydney Writers Festival.





From the incoming tide
I rescue a stone—
              deep olive green
tinged with yellow buff. 

Its colours bring echoes
of old growth forest, as though lifted
from leaf-litter, moss and fungi
but stranded here

among the pastel shells,
the bleached and silvered grit,
it’s a misfit
dumped on a tidal surge.

I roll it in my palm, turn
and stroke it with my thumb,
rub away each grain of sand
and hold it till it warms.



In waves of harassment, the hostile
natives dive and shriek—
              From the fig’s leafy head,
crouched in defiance— a red-eyed 

intruder, huge and pale, keeps
them at bay with great snaps
of its bill and raucous cries.
When we’re talking of birds

it’s a summer migrant with many names—
stormbird or fig-hawk, rainbird or hornbill;
             a channel-billed cuckoo, flown south
to breed and find hosts for its eggs. 

As I watch it struggle against the flock,
I think of its journey
across the ocean, grey wings beating,
hour upon hour—

driven by instinct and drawn
to our plenty,
each year they find nurture
despite the clamour.



Across theTimor Sea, the boats
              keep coming.
Some we hear about, some we don’t— 

Some will wait quietly, others won’t.                 


the third bridge
for my mother

It was a clean, sharp day
               cut through with winds
from the Southern Ocean, so we wrapped
her in rugs and pushed the wheelchair
along the boardwalk, through rushes
and reedbeds, the grieving swans
the calling, circling terns.

At the third bridge, we stopped.
              Beneath us, a tidal high,
the wind-dragged, surging estuary,
its sun-flecked surface.
And there we took turns to toss
him over— handful by handful,
back to the river, back to the ocean.

But caught at first
on gusts of wind, his ashes
              lifted against the light
then circled and swirled in exultant loops
before the final fall—
the quiet passage beneath the bridge.