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Gratitude Journal

Gratitude Journal

I’m glad I have a cat

now that I no longer

hug my friends. 

I’m glad I’d rather

read books

than go to parties.

I’m glad I live with

the Internet

and my smart TV.

I’m glad I never

have to go out –

I can shop online.

I’m glad there was time

to get over the fires

before the pandemic hit.

(Except of course for those 

still homeless, still having

nightmares. Ah well.)

When recurring floods

keep wrecking others’ houses,

I’m glad I live on a hill.

Thankfully, I don’t believe

those who say these times

are separating us.

Written for Friday Writings #27: Watching and Witnessing at Poets and Storytellers United.

Slightly belated note: Well, this poem is an epic fail! As revealed by the first few comments it has received. I was going to wait and see if anyone got it, but it has become obvious that the fault is mine, so I had better confess. I meant it to be ironic, as the speaker gradually reveals the ways in which she has become withdrawn and selfish without even realising it. Too subtle? Or is it that because I used facts from my own life, everyone assumed the persona was me, took it at face value and couldn't credit the underlying attitude I was trying to show?


My Curious Upbringing

 My Curious Upbringing

I was shaped by men – two men –

more than the women. The women 

shaped me, I suppose, negatively

as something to rebel against:

that traditional role. I could not see

the joy in cooking and cleaning.

But father and grandfather shaped

my curiosity, my lifelong wanting

to know and understand. My Dad

by example: ‘Let’s look that up!’

(What would a home have been,

without dictionary and encyclopaedia?)

My Grandpa in long nature walks

when we were together on visits,

pointing out a rich variety of particular

trees and flowers, birds and insects,

kinds of clouds.… And in letters, so many

over the years, wide-ranging conversations.

In some respects it was as if

they didn’t know I was a kid.

They spoke to my mind, that ageless 

part of a person, with respect

for my intelligence. They knew

I could think – and even better, enquire.

‘Think for yourself, make up

your own mind,’ they said. ‘Don’t

just take things at face value. Look 

deep.’ I was a dreamy little girl,

fond of fairy-tales, but I also knew

to use logic and common-sense.

My brother was brought up the same.

He didn’t have to rebel against cooking

and also didn’t need to abjure

fist fights, booze and sport. He grew up

taking it for granted that real men

include the gentle, and those who think.

Yes, we were ‘different’ – didn’t fit in

with the ‘norm’. We survived that

and found our tribes. Now we are

an old woman and an old man; each 

moved far from where we were born:

still filled with curiosity, and life.

Written for Poets and Storytellers United's Friday Writings #26, where Rommy invites us to be inspired by the phrase, 'stay curious'.



[Posting here because I found I needed a place to park this piece, so as to be able to link to it as desired. It's the title poem of my 2005 book, Secret Leopard, published by Alyscamps Press.]


Down near the flat rocks at the pool

the secret leopard sniffs the day.

He tilts his head by the striped bamboo,

calling me: come and play.

When I was seven, and nine, and twelve,

I watched for his furious, bell-shaped head,

but they always dragged me back from the track.

'He is terrible,' they said.

They stuffed my ears with cottonwool,

they tied my hands and feet to the bed,

but still the house shook silkenly

to his broad, electric tread.

That was a long, long time ago.

Now I am grown and free to run

to the white rocks and the dim bamboo

and the velvet hood of the sun.

He has been waiting by the yellow pool,

padding the black leaves patiently,

holding the flame in his narrow eyes,

wild and slow as the sea.

His handsome haunches are molten gold,

his perilous paws flow red through the shade.

You may mew forever from your pitiful bed —

I am deep in the spiky glade.

I will not tell of the spotted jungle

with silver trees that eat the sun.

I will not tell of the tawny trails

where I and the lavish leopard run.

 © Rosemary Nissen 1974

 from Universe Cat, Pariah Press (Melb.) 1985

and in Secret Leopard, Alyscamps Press (Paris) 2005.

First published A Second Australian Poetry Book for Children (Oxford)

Also in Secondary English Book 3, Macmillan.