And all these things
I thought to say
Were vanished
In a single day

The right
The wrong
The wasted words
I’d hopes
They’d fly
Like freeing

What did you think
I’d do
And swim
And swim

Reaching towards
A possibility
No rewards
Were necessary

And yet
Yes, yet
There was a spark
Of lightness
In the
Dismal dark

Oh you
Yes, you
Who always sought
Such precious
Dearly bought

All these things
I’d thought to say
Taste of ashes
Of decay
The thickened
The burdened mind
Wilting flowers
Left behind

And ALL these things
Come to nought
All these things
So dearly bought
Love, hate
Dark despair
Vanished in the brightening
Vanished when the
Day is done
One is all
All is one

MA. Winter 2017


And again her friend asks, softly “What’s he like, tell me about him”???

I come back to her, watching me across the table, curious, sympathetically.

“He looks like a rockstar, a dancer, a violinist, a drug dealer, out of work Actor, footballer, movie star, waiter”,  I look up and grin at her….and she grins back encouragingly…”go on”,  I discover its effortless to describe him, so vividly is he etched upon my mind’s eye, “he’s sleek and swift, agile, lean and strong….always laughing, focused, hard working. He has very beautiful bones, intense blue eyes – slanted, I can’t remember his mouth, his hands, although I’m deeply aware of his body, but his eyes hold me, enthralled….I feel him before I see him, and there’s that daily drop and fall, surge and rise of emotions.

When I see him, I feel fully alive.”

And now I feel so naked, exposed in the spotlight’s glare, and if she says,

“Girl, you’ve got it bad”,  I’ll push her backwards off her chair!!!  But she doesn’t like cliches any more than I do, just sits there in sympathy.

“What are you going to do about it, him?”

“I want him” I tell her, “and spend a great deal of time lecturing myself on every practical, sensible, ruthless reason, why I shouldn’t *have him*, on what earthly possible reason he would want me, on what do I have to offer him….certainly not youth and beauty” I say, sardonically.

She reaches out across the table, takes both my hands in hers, grips me, shakes me, just a little.  “If it were me, telling you this story instead of the other way around, what would you say to me”

I feel myself unwind, the tension in neck and shoulders fall away.

“ I would be very annoyed with you, tell you how very lovely you are.

Tell you that long years lived,  bring not only the lines and scars of age but great depth, compassion, empathy, wisdom, understanding….this my dear, is great beauty. Perhaps that is what draws him to you!!!”  Now without warning, tears start flowing down my face. We stand up, walk into each other’s arms, embrace.

“All those long years alone, single parenting, the endless menial jobs….I lost that true essence …that other me. The fully functioning sexual woman. It is so….long, since I have been with a man. I am as terrified as I am hungry”

She knows, she nods, she smiles with complete empathy.


WAY BACK IN THE EARLY 1950’S, our family had fallen in love with a friend’s Dachshund , Bismarck….a small dog of great charm and character.

We wanted one, apparently me especially as, to hurry my parents along in this financial commitment, I’d asked for money whenever my siblings were given milkshakes or ice-creams. By the end of summer I offered up my matchbox of coins, no doubt of some small significance back in those days.

We heard the Litter had been born, and went on a cold Autumn day to visit the Breeder, and choose our pup, born in the beautiful isolated town of Emerald, high up in the Dandenong Ranges, where my Great Grandfather’s house….our family holiday house stood.

I could hardly contain my excitement….a pup of my own I was thinking, sitting in the back of the car, hearing the adults talking, gossiping…..drifting back to me.

“She’s been married and divorced three times”……”She lives with a homosexual who breeds Afghan Hounds”…..”a terrible housekeeper …..she lets her bitches whelp on the beautiful antique tapestried chairs”…..”and you know she owns a shrunken head; the museum borrows it from time to time.” All this going over the top of my puppy dreaming, and then turning to look at us kids, “She can’t hear a word, she reads your lips….so you must look directly at her, and speak clearly.”

Me…..(puppypuppypuppypuppypuppy)…..”Yes Mum.”

I remember vividly the first time I saw her emerging from between two farm buildings….a small sturdy Woman surrounded by a pack of dogs, all undulating around her feet like sleek little seals, their long low bodies moving in a wave towards us, yapping shrilly.

My family and friends stood by the car, a stiff, formal little group, waiting politely.

Drawn like a magnet I surged towards her, her farmyard smell reaching me before she did. Eyes enchanted with the pack of hounds, I took her in from the ground up….knee high gumboots covered in mud and reeking of pig shit, work trousers of a coarse hard wearing fabric covered with a practical apron made from a hessian potato sack, a thick hand knitted jumper….and then I was looking into her lovely broad, sunbrowned face, kind eyes, intelligent, smiling. Her brown/iron grey hair parted in the middle, with lovely plaits coiled over her ears. She was the most homely, exotic Woman I had ever seen….. the music of her voice, shrieking to the little hounds in a thick, guttural accent. And me, a small girl coming from a background of buttoned up conservatism and tight perms.


As my parents explained how I’d saved all summer, she took me in her arms and hugged me tight. Warmth, strength and softness, surrounded by such smells and noise, such vivid life, such joy.

Formalities and introductions completed, we were all invited into her home, to view the litter, (which had indeed been born on finest Tapestry) choose a pup, and have afternoon tea…..



Her name was Henny Marsh, obviously the Count had been her first or second husband.
Having gone through the awkwardness of introductions with the Adults, who considered this Woman with uneasy caution, we were invited into the house, for puppy viewing and afternoon tea. It was a gorgeous, light filled expanse……. floors covered with Persian Rugs, long low tapestry covered Chaise Longes, Glass Cases of gorgeous Chinese Vases, Paintings, Sculptures, Pottery, and everywhere lavish drapes, wall tapestries and furniture collected from all over the World.

The red gold Mother lay in state on a long low tapestry covered couch, her babies all in a row suckling……and one by one, the Countess lifted them handing each of us a pup…..golden red, like their Dam, they looked even more seal like, their heads still round and chubby as their sleek little bodies. The perfect smell of them, their strange smoky breath. We were all equally entranced, forgot our awe at the richness of our surroundings and heads bent, bodies curved protectively over these adorable babies, we sat cradling them to a background of Henny’s voice, strange , wild as geese honking through the skies. She, unable to hear herself, spoke in piercing tones, high, rich, almost operatic in comparison to our flat Australian drawl. She was utterly fascinating!!!

Finally, one perfect male pup was chosen, returned to his Mother, and we all sat down at a beautifully carved table for refreshments. Served on finest china was an assortment of cakes (you’ll find similar in Acland Street, St Kilda), and small cups of very strong Turkish Coffee. The manners of the adults was an education in deception and hypocrisy….as we kids reached for cakes……we were warned by our parent’s friends that “she was dirty, the food would make us sick”, and right there speaking about the Countess as though she wasn’t aware….they pushed European Delicacies under the table, into the eager mouths of the small hounds gathered beneath, whilst smiling up at her, as she brought more food, saying how delicious it all was.

A date was set for puppy collection, and we all headed out into the big beautiful rambling garden, back to the car……the excitement and disappointment was overwhelming…..I didn’t want to leave all those gorgeous little dogs, the tiny chosen one, and I especially didn’t want to leave the Countess…

Everything about her made me feel good…..her simple clothes, her bewitching voice, her animal smell, her capable gentle hands, her way with her dogs………. I wanted to stay forever.

And on the journey home, lulled by the motion of the car, falling into sleep……..
the adults voices drifting back to me….”she’s mixed with royalty, you know……it was Haile Selassie, the Emperor of Ethiopia who gave her the shrunken head”

MA© Summer 2018

To be continued….#puppy collection #the shrunken head #odd relations with the Museum.


DESIRE, part 5

It’s late in the day
Near Dusk
As I walk across the road
Towards my car
He comes up behind me
Takes hold of my arm
I turn
Melt into him
His smell
Stubble on his chin
Brushing my face
No control
I breathe him in
Slightly feral

I hadn’t planned it
The urge

I want him

MA Spring 2017


She thought the fire had died
Bent down to clean away
The spent grey ashes
Surprising her
Still warm
A slow burn
Just waiting
To be kindled

MA. Spring 2016

Ocean Hunger

Whoooooosh, whoooooooosh
Says the incoming tide
As it arrives
Curling, rippling, pleating, folding
Goodbye, goodbye
The seagulls cry
As the tide goes out and out and out
Pulled by the love of the silvery moon
Too soon, too soon
It comes and goes
Ebbs and flows
I cool my toes
Sigh and remember
For I ‘m landlocked
And seasick
For the incoming tide
On which I ride
And dreaming
And dreaming
Of screaming gulls
And a silvery moon
Drifting boats
Too soon, too soon
The tide goes out
It ebbs and flows
In dreams I float
Cooling my toes

MA Summer 2015

photo by Gracie Rose


It was too late
She would never
Reach him
Never be able
To share
The beauty
The power
The tenderness
The heart…..


In the end
Had to be
Turned on it’s
Into something funny
It was too

Her heart
And soul
The knowing…..

It was
Too late

MA. Summer 2017


Once more he stands in front of me….takes me by surprise, stands so close I feel faint, and tilting his chin, he looks down at me….

“You’re doing it again” he says, “avoiding me….why?”


Standing his ground, eyes cold, intense….”every time you see me, you turn and look away…..WHY???”

“Don’t you see” I say, “Firstly, I only ever see you in this god awful place….think about it” and now all the held back feelings, my own anger at the seeming futility, absurdity of our situation fills me, overflows. I square my shoulders, loosen my spine, give him back the look he’s just given me. And again,

“Don’t you SEE?”

“Every time I see you, I feel like my heart will explode right through my chest….when I see you I am afraid, afraid of my feelings “

He says nothing, stands there, looking, looking….

“And when I see you, I light up…aflame, then I feel too open, too vulnerable “

He shifts slightly, “And when you don’t see me?”

“Then I am looking for you, wanting, wanting only to see you again ,”

“So, that’s how it is?”

Still unsmiling, he reaches out and tucks a stray hair behind my ear, cups his long fingers around my neck.  And I stand still, quivering like a frightened deer, wanting to run, wanting to stay, then step back, “look where we are for god’s sake” and this time it is me, who turns and walks away, out into fresh air, gulping it in, shuddering, I can still smell the sweat on his skin.

And walking faster towards the sanctuary of my car, trying to shake off the sense of him.  I hear footsteps behind me. A hand reaches out , curls lightly around me and without any thought, my body turns, literally melts into him. His other hand cups my neck, warm, solid, comforting….and reaching up to his wonderful mouth, I kiss him.

And now, hot breath in my ear “I could have you now, right here, and be damned to everybody “….heated bodies cling, my hips move against him, involuntarily. I have to pull back, get myself under control.

“Come, come with me now” he murmurs, and we climb into his car, and leave.

And then the old familiar terrors drain away all that heat.

A quivering mess, I turn to him.

“Stop, stop the car. I can’t do this”

We both get out, I stand shaking, arms wrapped protectively around my body.

Almost shouting….

“Its too late. Far too late. I DON’T KNOW HOW TO BE WITH A MAN ANYMORE”.

I’m terrified of what’s coming, the shedding of clothing, my protective skin.


He approaches cautiously, gathers me carefully into him, breathing deeply, saying nothing, and slowly I match my breathing with him, once more sinking in towards the shelter of him.

“I don’t know how to be with a man anymore….it’s been so very many years”

Still quietly holding me, “You needn’t be afraid ….

we’ll take it slowly, you’ll see. I’ll make it easy ….let me do this, for you.”

And taking my hand, firmly, gently, he leads me back to the car and I go with him.

Excerpt from Breaking Taboos….an Erotic Fantasy



(On that morning of heavy rain)

Gazing into an ocean of blue, her fingers still tangled in his hair, her body limp from the tumult of their lovemaking she feels herself drifting, sees his eyelids close, feels his body relaxing into sleep, feels her fingers uncurl, let go….joins him.  And the rain keeps up a blessed steady drumbeat on the tin roof of their sanctuary.

Waking cold, in an empty bed, she turns, looks for him. He stands, naked, back turned to her, arms raised, hands braced in the open doorway. His back in shadow, his body rimmed with light from the mid afternoon sun, hair loose upon his shoulders. Her etheric body leaves the bed, walks softly across bare boards, wraps arms around him….breathes him in, the intoxicating male smell of him.

But she remains there in the narrow rumpled bed, eyes fixed on this image….observing the shapes and curves, the long lean lines, the inner stillness of him….as he looks outwards, belonging to no one….not her, not she…..he is simply there, framed against the light, pure being.

BEFORE NIGHT FALLS she turns to him, watches him lock the door, come, link fingers with her as they walk towards the lake. All is stillness and shimmer on the water as they sit quietly, bodies touching…..breathing in the peace of it, breathing in each other.

By unspoken agreement, she leaves first, not wanting to watch him drive away…..and later, at the Lilypond she feeds her fish, their golden bodies rising, creating tiny ripples on the water….a vivid memory to take with her into sleep… fill her dreams….and waking in the night, she weeps, finding herself cold, alone, no longer home.

Excerpt from Breaking Taboos


ONCE , LONG BEFORE MOST FOLK CAN REMEMBER, I was keeper of the fire. The people depended on me; they knew I understood the secrets of turning last night’s grey ashes back to burning flame…..but even I had to sleep for a little while at least.
Yet even in sleep I dreamed. I dreamed the dreams the auld ones told me. They held the secrets of fire, passed from the oldest Grandsire of my lineage, down and down through years beyond counting, they held the secret close. So simple to the initiated; all fire wanted was company, the slow burning flame of passion. Passion for fire. So so simple for the ones who knew.

And all these senses were a living knowing thing, a skill as easy as breathing. For me, and the young ones growing who came to sit and stare all the long cold nights and days, intoxicated by the flames, hypnotised, seeking visions. I taught the oldest, who taught the next in line, right on through to the small babies, their eyes alight with flames. Each had a task to fulfil in their training.
Each had to know how an unwatched fire left lonely, could turn against the people, become a raging, roaring fury….a monster. A fire untended became surly and uncooperative, difficult to relight…..or, forgotten by laziness, a greedy, ravening thing, eating up the plains we hunted on, boiling the rivers to dead dry sand, destroying the forests, burning all the trees, the wood we needed, the wood we depended on for fire.

Ignorant, untaught, many people laughed at my warnings “She’s crazy,” I heard them say, laughing quietly behind their hands as they sneaked away under the cover of early morning business, to run and play. But fire is hungry, needs company….and while I live, I will give it what it wants….for I have the secret of fire deep within me….I am the kindling that feeds the flame.

MargaretArlen ©️ Winter 2019

Thanks to Gracie Rose for Fire Photo