Jacket 16 — March 2002   |   # 16  Contents   |   Homepage   |  Catalog   |    


Overland magazine feature

Kate Lilley: three poems



Lady in the Dark

Feudal conflict in a turn-of-the-century prep school leads to complications
for young lesbians and their guardians; an estate in litigation and a botched
paternity suit. When a daughter marries her mother’s lover the air
fills with hieroglyphs, some you can see, others you can’t
unless you’re part of a certain clique of emotionally damaged outsiders.
Lucky for me I am and I love the Spanish interiors. What’s next?
A musical about psychoanalysis starring Ginger Rogers in a tux and bow tie.
She’s an editor who just can’t decide (should next month’s cover
have a circus theme? No, of course not!). Instead of doing her job
she’s dreaming up crazy dance routines in her dead mother’s dresses.
It sounds a lot more enjoyable than it actually is but the couch is wild.
I pass the time fantasising about making-over my office
and thinking about the conventions of the Elizabethan stage.
In the case of the boy-heroine the umbrella of fiction was meant to fail.
Apparently Ginger needs a new lay-out and all the help she can get
from a truckload of smoke and mirrors, the spring line of Paris originals,
a deputy who won’t roll over (Ray Milland) and a course of supervised
regression. Is that all? Cured after three sessions... Please! Call that work?
And where was the money changing hands? My mother loved Kitty Foyle
but she doesn’t cut it as a mannish woman — or an analysand.
If the analyst had been more alluring — butch or femme or butch-femme,
a provocatively brainy woman of any kind, the whole thing juicier
and dubbed into Spanish, more alert to the complex nuances of the
therapeutic relation... well, I would say that, wouldn’t I?

It follows

Resentment starts to go backwards in search of a new hermeneutic
the appointment slipped your mind that’s no excuse

I’m the kind who’ll sit in the waiting room and watch the second hand
for as long as it takes it’s something I’m proud of I won’t

leave just because it’s dark outside and the street is slick with tears
it’s impolite to tell you what you know already

and antisocial not to — I’ll bounce back in a year or two
sorry there’s no one on your side you’ll have to take mine

no need to write that down I’ll feel like a brute and it’ll only fester
then we’ll both be on our knees mewling and puking

it’s the voice of a thousand gardens making me cranky and out of sorts
quit your dimwit hankering and hollering I don’t want to hear it

Sequel

Author v title in the sunken lounge
‘abortion’ in the index
whose life am I living?
the blister platform is empty and so am I
rippled veneer
feast and famine
a bracelet of lost charms
the blonde gleam of moonlight like a slide projector

When it comes to period pieces keep it simple
genres get distressed
and then everybody’s anxious


Kate Lilley teaches at the University of Sydney, Australia. Salt Publications (Cambridge, UK) will publish her new book of poems, Versary, in 2002.


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