Maths was never my strong subject but topology is something I’ve been forced to learn: twist, stretch, pretend to understand that an ellipse is a deformed circle. I remember us in the trapezoid maze, willing ourselves to be lost. We had youth on our side then, had surrendered ourselves to the world’s curved design. When I reached the centre, I sat on a bench inhaling a fragrance of grass and leaf — perhaps that is what love smells like. I sat with my thoughts in the mild northern sun, drinking stillness, took longer than you to find my way out. Later we took photos of each other beside the parterres with their symmetrical patterns, pretending to be tall triangular trees, the palace red and white behind us: the day after we were flying home. The pandemic reminds me of that time: leaves graze our legs and arms, time is mute and motionless, the same towering green walls. This morning I sat in early frost, grounded, watched determined bees, their movements arced, teasing half circles too, the lilly pilly verge a writhing forest, all of us sleepier. The garden bench is a leafy cul-de-sac in another year of confusion. Moving away from the truth doesn’t mean we’re growing closer.
Contextual Essay: Truth, and finding a way to express that heaviness creatively, is a challenge. Sometimes we feel more understood when communing with nature, even in an urban setting.
The contained nature of the garden and the memories it throws up are a comfort as the impacts of the Pandemic drag on — these years are like negotiating a maze, but writing poems definitely helps!
Jane Frank’s latest chapbook is Wide River (Calanthe Press, 2020). Her poems have won awards and been widely published both in Australia and internationally, appearing most recently in Westerly, Plumwood Mountain, Poetry Ireland Review, Spelt, StylusLit, Live Encounters and a number of anthologies including Poetry for the Planet, The Incompleteness Book II, The Newcastle Poetry Prize Anthology and Not Very Quiet: The Anthology. Originally from the Fraser Coast, Jane lives in Brisbane and teaches creative writing at Griffith University.