DECEMBER (For Dorothy Porter, 1954-2008) © Jewel Vercoe Rainbow

In December, the time of endings and celebration,

You quietly left this earth bereft and, so too, this nation

Your early death a selfish theft by the gods of Poesy

Who coveted you, great poetess, to recite at their nightly cosey

Piercing eyes of an eagle, cheekbones sculpted high and regal,

They recognised an Egyptian queen who once ruled in Memphis.

Your stylised words revealed to us more meaning than mere emphasis,

Vivid, real, raw, transgressional, your firebird’s songs were so confessional

You taught us more by being you than any book or class could do

You raged and kissed the page with power, you never were a shy wallflower

We all admired your verve and bravery, unhampered by domestic slavery,

To say the things we feared to think, to grin and take it to the brink

Of decency and taste, no-one could call your life a waste

Out of a dark and lonesome place you appeared to us as if by grace

Your fierce poems made walls dissolve in that oppressive learning space

Though decades hence have passed since our paths briefly crossed

Now I feel the searing pain of your loss and, more than mere surprise, it shocks

To know that your beacon, so bright, has burned out so soon

When your lustrous words still glow incandescent like the harvest moon

A brilliant comet, you’ll forever rest at the peak of the trail you blazed

For the different, the lonely, the lover, the angry, the crazed

You came and conquered Venus and detoured left past Mars

Shine on and light the way, bold sister, from the stars


* I had the great privilege of being taught by Dorothy Porter who brought colour to the soulless ‘tower block’ at the University of Technology, Sydney, in the late 1980s. She remains an unforgettable inspiration for her ground-breaking works.

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