Poetry CornerPaperbark gossip by Jaya Penelope

paperbark gossip

embrace me in your innumerable
arms     paperbark & lift me
from earth’s shadow
bring your shaggy mouths
to the whorl of my ear    whisper
some paperbark talk

lean in & comb my hair
with your twiggy fingers
twine it into a braid of duck
feathers     a coronet of leaf
shimmer and lake water

speak to me of shedding    paperbark
of how to slough off outgrown selves—
to stand sun warm & naked
among soft-seamed gowns
of stripped-back bark

take me into your bright circle
down by the lakes edge     paperbark
let’s gossip about all the ways
there are to shapeshift

teach me    oh teach me    paperbark
.    to
.        shed
.            skin


Jaya Penelope

Poet and storyteller Jaya Penelope is a dream cartographer, a cultivator of wonder, a tremulous archaeologist of buried voices and a lover of wild spaces. Jaya’s poetry has been shortlisted for The Heroine’s Women’s Writing Prize/Anthology (2020) and published in Indigo, Blue Dog, Creatrix, Voiceworks, Cuttlefish, Poetry d’Amour and The Breath of The Sea Anthology. You knocked out my walls, her spoken word collaboration with musician Gosia Winter was featured on Radio National’s Poetica.

Jaya runs weekly women’s Creative Writing Circles and monthly Sacred Story Circles from her home in Walyalup/Fremantle and is grateful to live, love and write on unceded Whajuk Noongar land.

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