Another Day Above the Ground, Anatomy Dichotomy, Minarets, & Cotton Fences, Susan Lewington

Another Day Above the Ground

Shrouded sleek secret burqas

 billowing mesmerising

                                    kohl – lined bullet eyes


Gilded clicking Arabic

                                  magical kinetics click

                                                             connect lyrical


  Delicate dynamic

              melodic prosaic verse

quelled   rhyming

             Arabic chants.


Alien identity

        Diminished hidden beneath

                                         Layers of bold cold –


Dwarfed in context time and place

                   I slide between   imbedded

                                         cracks of tortured tiles

                                                           –  a puddle.

I am

the only




Anatomy Dichotomy


Steep Bundeena bush tramping

Indigenous rock carvings

sacred caves burial site

vigilant vines lumpy track

intractable cliff climbers

shrouded sylphs slipping stepping

support gnarled knotty trunks

another leads ant-like lines

we form a narrow sprite shrine

– I am at the back.


Sudden shrill sharp screech shocks screams

shouts shatter crystal salt air

birds fly off flapping horror

clustered hallowed girls

huddled with bedraggled scarves

pointing to salt soaked shallows

below catching breath, look see

what has wrought this commotion

thank goodness – noted muted

mirthful murmurs giggle.

Hushed voices some have bolted

Anatomy Dichotomy image, Lewington

others stopped to peer and gawk

like heaven’s messengers lost

in their holy veils and smocked

pocket uniforms hidden

‘Move on Amanie, Sabah,

Madeeha’ I chide relief

alive, no cataclysm happened

on this auspicious cliff-top

ledge we slide and climb.


‘We haven’t got all day girls’

‘Ms Look, see? He’s got no clothes

on’ whispers Zainab pointing

through trees in contemplative

awe – gaze pursues her slender

hennaed finger pointed – where

I see a swimmer naked


standing in the joyful waves

oblivious of audience –

– invisible voyeurs.


Peek through acacia curtains

squinting in sun’s bedazzled

beams, covered in layer upon

layer hot cotton rigid rules

on this burning scorching day.

Poor souls. His perfect handsome

surfer’s body lashed by licking

waves, droplets, riverlets down

haunches bronzed by noble sun –

flaxen surfer boy


With bulging pecs body-surfs

God-given glory alone

with foam and flotsam

standing majestic splendid

white bubbles kiss naked skin,

blue eyes calm and free he can’t


hear muffled whispers breathlessly

admitting interest, he reaches

shallows, water runs in ripples

off Coke can abs


I sigh at this dichotomy

of physical anatomy –

a shrouded teacher standing

glancing back with black burqa

being blown across her mouth


by a gust of carefree wind

–      It clings on hollow bones

she freezes on the crest it flaps

the image burns my soul somehow

woman – veiled black mask.


Viewer, viewed, free, chosen, all

bewitched with emboldened eyes

brazen flushed faces heated

vermillion   blushes, wide eyed


pursed lips numinous- I tell

flock to ‘Move along’ but then

cannot resist quick furtive

glances to their right – why not?

Must keep going forward.

They might

– Slip.


Cotton Fences

Classroom brimming desks end to end text books in piles on unkind tiles – Rows, chairs, stepping over more stuff – Clutter, mutter,  tick here  tick there ‘Put it down. Mirror away Nadine, listen, pick up a pen. Do Some Work.’

‘But Ms I’m different,

I’m going

     to be a Star.

Spray water in  bathroom splash splish splash endlessly shake out  hair, laughter mirrors basins  hidden secret girls stuff  re-appear dampened chastened modest  covered chagrined pinned buttoned huddle frown chatter whisper mutter utter weep frown  shout   look in the mirror they smooth the edges of their scarves around their faces – Again

I don’t need to learn this,

I don’t like it.

I’m going to be on TV.

An actress.

Or a model’

Slides her fingers under chin, loosens constrictive hijab, adjusts sharp pins that keep scarf, rules, codes in place.

‘I can sing Ms

do you want

– to Hear Me?’

 Peep from cotton fences faces bound by tradition cannot escape, their bodies – fenced in, captives tied up bound -hidden by religious fervour without encouragement shriek belly dance at the drop of a kebab. Leap up out of their chairs onto desktops challenging demanding trouble forgivable they are Allah’s beautiful prisoners.



Monday morning walking talking,

striped abandoned kittens

milling round nylon ankles forlorn.

Ignore plaintive mews, massive gates

black metallic spires

 spiked minarets, huge rovers glide ride.

Hurry across road dodging wheels

sad voices reluctance

hostile faces nod or not.

Oh congested suburban day

drive by shootings headlines

treeless friendless aliens surround.

Feeling spaced out I remember

something I forgot

 heart thumping faster sense bleak panic.

I gasp for the memory

of what it is, I have



Download a pdf of Lewington-Poems

Susan Lewington

Susan wrote this suite of poems based on some of her experiences as a secondary school English teacher in two of Sydney’s Islamic High Schools. For two years on a daily basis, she found herself immersed in various degrees of joy, pain, stress, exhaustion, fulfilment and anxiety which served her well when she turned to the pen for therapy. Thus, these autobiographical results were ignited by the deadlines that hovered over her as she undertook this wonderful journey of discovery and enlightenment.

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