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Configurations | Jo Langdon

Judy Garland et al surface & turn

from fields of poppy & asbestos

in the direction of Oz—impression

of shining: light curved in painted

emerald columns that give height, heft

to this lofty horizon (I check

that they are poppies, not

the tulips of my oma’s

birthplace frescos as imagined: kitsch

of Klompen—shoes of alder, willow or

poplar woods; only of course

there was also, and most of all

hunger—the reason for her enduring

attentions to stray cats, heft

of vegetable peelings pared

away to waste— Also yes, she is

Judy not Audrey reposing

in the dazzle of poppies

& gentle sift of carcinogen: see

with what tenderness this imitation

of snow caresses planes

of brow, jaw, cheek—arc

of upturned nasal cartilage & bone; how

artful its mimicry of icicles furring.

When I explain my oma’s doll

proportions, persistent hungers

of childhood & war,

my friend says, ‘just

like Audrey Hepburn!’ Later

to learn how child Audrey,

malnourished, would eat

tulip bulbs. Oma has planted

her garden unruly with colour:

a riot of zinnias, heat of ruby/

orange/magenta, and in this

there is a fullness that exceeds

the cinch of any ballet dancer’s

waist—the veneration imposed

upon the deprivations

of wraiths & waifs.

Jo Langdon’s poetry collections are Snowline (Whitmore Press, 2012) and Glass Life (Five Islands Press, 2018). Her recent writing is also published or forthcoming in places such as Antipodes, Island, Meanjin, Overland, and Southerly. In 2018 she was a fellow of the Elizabeth Kostova Foundation’s Sozopol Seminars, and in 2020 her fiction placed in the Newcastle and Olga Masters short story awards. Jo currently lives and works on unceded Wadawurrung land in Geelong, Victoria.


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