Poems by Miriel Lenore

the organ
not enough you’d think to split a church
but religion fuels the wildest feelings
some left the church when the organ came —
the first settler’s son and my relative Sam
even though his Liza was the first organist
it seemed as if God had personally decreed
that hymns should be sung line by line:
the devil was in the asthmatic sounds
from the newly installed pedal organ
they asked the Salvation Army to come
strange when their trumpets and drums
were louder and livelier than the organ
but passed by God I suppose like King David’s dancing



the game
away from the dozing houses
at the top end of our street
the boys play a scary game
one of them curls into an upright car tyre
uses his hands for balance
calls to his mates I’m ready
another boy launches the tyre
to whirl down the hill wobble
and fall over as the track levels
fearful yet yearning to belong
I ask for a turn
you’ll have to pass a test, it’s not for everyone
if you eat a mouthful of dirt, you can go
I eat the dirt —
and the boys run off with the tyre



first memory
flying to the ceiling then
caught in my father’s big hands
up again and again
I’m thrilled and scared
stop it Bill it’s dangerous
a pattern for these new parents
as they learnt on me
with a hairbrush she tapped
my front teeth straight
tried to curl my hair in rags
dosed me with Condy’s crystals
against a raging epidemic
taught me to read and write
carefully moving the pencil
to my right hand
he brought back fish from the river
showed me neat goldfinch nests
and the spectacular rainbow bird
taught me to ride shoot and drive
thought I could do anything except
cook and “entertain a drawing room”
only at tennis did they unite
to coach and cheer    proud
when I captained the team
or won a clock
with shoulder worn out and sore
I still take to the courts