Hazel Smith's work has appeared in magazines including Southerly, Heat, Southern Review, W/Edge, Tinfish, Outlet, Crayon, Reality Studios and Pages. She has released two CDs, "Poet Without Language" (austraLYSIS, 1994) and "Nuraghic Echoes" (Rufus Records, 1996). Senior Lecturer in the School of English at the University of New South Wales, her book Hyperscapes in the Poetry of Frank O'Hara: Difference, Homosexuality, Topography was published by Liverpool University Press in late 2000.

Three Women

Three forms are standing in three different fields. They hold hands, without touching, over an invisible space. Each is aware of the breath of the other two, the scent of her being. But they cannot see each other.

These sisters could also be strangers. Each pathway marks their parting. Signposts hail sideshows, postmarks hide dream-zones.

Only in death will they be welded. But they cannot live alone. And each time the telephone rings they will long for the voice of the other, and sometimes they will find it.

One begets three begets six begets nine begets many. Which means the will of each can travel towards the others. And so a migrant has inside her hosts with which to compete, guests she is unaware of.

Each dawn cannot grow because it is still a shadow. Every shadow will always fade since it cannot delay the darkness.

                        It is March, the sun is shining and Wendy is playing the computer. She hopes that the words she types will turn into a poem. Words sing to her and offer up their meanings.
                But she lacks routine, collaboration, deadlines. She struggles to be recognised and published. And her words are restless on the page, they need performance or projection. Once the words have found a voice they need to speak.
                As a child Wendy learnt the cello: mellow, deep, mellifluous. She's always wanted to be in a string quartet. Today as her fingers chase her mind, she fantasises fame as a musician.

                Maggie holds her flute horizontal on her lap and stares straight ahead. Her ears are closed. She is counting her bars rest in Tchaik Four but she counts without concentration.
                There are days when Maggie feels that sounds are pouring from her mouth and swirling all around her. Her will is blurring into breath, her pipe paints pain. But today she does not want to play. Her nerves are bad. Too may notes: no time to be musical!
                Maggie would like to read and study. She loves to stroke ideas and feel their curves. Performing is a life at one remove, a second-hand crusade. She has never written anything. But she has inside her, she knows, waiting to be delivered, a great and hidden novel.

                And then there is Amy. She is wearing her "successful academic" clothing. Big glasses, a red jacket, and dangly earrings. She is running a tutorial on "performing bodies" and has one ear on the job, but she is not listening closely to what the students are saying. She is thinking about other matters, more expansive, more important.
                Amy loves reading books, particularly cultural theory. But she sometimes suspects that theory does not hold up in practice. That students don't learn. That no one reads academic books. And she doesn't want to mark essays or sit in endless, self-defeating meetings.
                Amy would like to be someone with a quest, a breathless mission. She needs to be living on the edge. I suppose you've guessed. She'd like to be a writer or musician.

The other day I nearly died, it makes you reconsider who you are and how you're living. I've tried so many different roles but what you need to be is never where you're placed. You have to trust the incomplete and celebrate the heady not-quite-meaning. You tread the tides between the wind, you learn to love the steady sail, the kiss of space. A sense of structure never fails: you think in threes or make the ending murmur the beginning.

I've changed my flight-path several times, each course brings joy but nothing ever absolutely fits. Yet you know that others must change skins: it's not all you. And you enjoy the face you claim as yours, your own reflections ragged in the mirror. You open doors to deeds as they arrive, you chase away unwelcome signs. And there's always friendship taking you by stealth: you talk with other misfits over drinks, invite strangers home to share your frugal supper.

You know the things you'd really like are not the things you want. You can have all the memories that you need, you only have to sow them. You can't be every person in the world, you can't dislodge the choices that you made, you can't avoid the world's unfair derision. But you can fail to touch the sky and laugh, stammer gladly when you meant to sing, bridge the biggest gap with ad hoc, home-made feelings.

A woman burns her fates into silent stories. She points towards the worlds inside her words, but comforts them as they refuse to speak. Then she breathes deeply into the voices of their being.

A woman moves the moon between its phases. She knows that she is made of moods. They turn their heads in separate spheres, their arms outstretched, searching blindly for each other.

A woman finds that she is three: she thinks, she writes, she listens. Wendy scrambling words upon the screen, Maggie flutter-tonguing sonic truths, Amy launching rockets into lectures. And one day Wendy passes Amy in the supermarket, unaware, and watches Maggie playing Bruckner on the television.

The misunderstanding

You scatter feathers but it seems as if youíve dropped a stone. You cannot gather up the words and put them in a sack: you cannot nought-cross time. Itís nothing like, itís not like that, it mustnít mean!! They have mislistened and wrong-motived you, and you dislike this salt positioning.

Afterwards you burn and sulk and worm. The night is sick with mirrors that they ripped, with blackened folds. You must wait for sleep to space and sweeten ditch. For morning bearing freshly-threaded moods, unsullied, sun-washed and re-seamed.