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Sue Clennelle
Sue Clennell was once a librarian for the Department of Army. She was a published poet by the time she was nine years old.

She has a Bachelor of Letters from Deakin University, majoring in Journalism, and also took a second year Creative Writing course under Marion Campbell at Murdoch University, as an audit student.

Sue moved to Perth in 1983. Her poetry has been published by The Weekend Australian, The West Australian, PoetryNZ, Quadrant, Studio, Southern Review, Speed Poets, Unusual Work and various school text books published by MacMillan.

She’s a guest poet at the 2010 WA Spring Festival and has had short stories published by The West Australian, Imago, Idiom 23 and in various anthologies including Summer Shorts published by Fremantle Arts Centre Press.

Sue's prose poem ‘The Moon is an Ice Cream’ was runner-up in the 2006 $10,000 Josephine Ulrick Poetry Prize, and Loquats must be ripe commended in 2007 by the same prize. This is the first publication of ‘Loquats must be ripe’.

Sue’s collection of poems The Ink Drinkers (with Laurel Lamperd) can be found at her home.

Loquats must be ripe.
by Sue Clennell

She is pepper on steak, rich gold capsicum. I can’t help it, offer her gifts because of her youth and brown eyes. The eyes of a doe, no, darker, dark chocolate so good for the heart. Would like to show her Venezia because of the smoothness of her neck, for her to hear a man playing an accordion in a gondola, see the rainbow coloured houses of Burano across the lagoon, buy jewellery from an island where residents slashed traitors’ hearts with glass stilettos, visit during Carnevale and revel in anonymity.

She wants me to wear my golden Pharaoh mask to the Gay Parade. There is a Madonna video where she sings Like a Virgin on the waterways of Venice and a man wears a lion mask and scoops her in his arms. Playing with a lion on the Rialto bridge, no, not the Rialto, one of the four hundred and thirty three bridges in Venice anyway. Oh yes, she’d like that. She also likes Leela the Amazon warrior with the tight skin dresses in Doctor Who, does not like the kissy new doctor.

She gorges seven loquats for breakfast, downing them with yoghurt, there they go sliding down that palm oil throat. Don’t eat the peary loquats too soon my love lest they be tart.

Says she has the passion of a thousand sea horses, salt on my lips. She has it, that thing, I have seen straight women preen in her presence. Likes girls not of her persuasion, feels they are more of a challenge. An aggressive pick-up artist, a show pony, says sometimes it pays to be naughty. I am her horse whisperer, images connect our minds. Trust me, me in my golden Pharaoh mask, you can forgive anything of someone who makes you laugh.

Likes my curios, collectibles, does not realise she is the most treasured ornament of my collection, my Meryt (beloved), Neferusobek, Nefertiti/Nofretete, Nefertari.

May you not be like Nitocris, the beautiful avenger who drowned her brother’s enemies, for I will be your mandrake root. For you I will don the false beard of Hatshepsut. Remember how we lay on the banks of the river and listened to a hot guitar? Like the ancients I am not afraid to express my love through tales of gods, poetry and dreams. I will devour you like a grape tomato, seeds between my teeth. Like rose and lemon flavoured Turkish delight, the sweet and the bitter all in one.

She says older women can last the distance, have more stamina. We will walk the Nile together, the old and the new, in a land of stranger historic trysts, that of brother and sister. In a land where Egyptians were building pyramids when mammoths still roamed Siberia.

I will take her to the Spanish steps in Rome where the Azaleas preen pinkly beside. To the house where autumnal Keats breathed his last ode. I would show her where that poet wrote his name on Shakespeare’s ceiling in Stratford-on-Avon, but they have whitewashed him out of that moment of existence. Byron’s scratchings on the sanctuary of Poseidon and Athena, however, still stay to gaze upon, I am thinking now of the Greeks who have always known and loved us.

For she is the sunflower in a sea of lavender, the rainbow in a trout’s eye Newton’s white light, the welcome presence of rain in the air. She is a John Waterhouse painting, rock star Cher strutting around in just a black ribbon and stockings, a Cretan snake goddess wearing those reptiles like bracelets, though her bite be gentle. She is electric magnetic doesn’t look at me when in a crowd but knows my presence.

I have heard it said her breasts are two roses, so small so fragile.

Come with me to see Galileo’s digit preserved, the tower from which he leaned to drop a feather, or would you sooner hie to England where Charlotte and Emily wooed their rugged hero? I see you as a slim Shakespearean boy playing the girl in the old Globe. Like Jane Austen’s Elizabeth Bennett, we will say, What are men to rocks and mountains? … And when we do return, it shall not be like other travelers … No, we will not be like other travelers, trust me, me in my golden Pharaoh mask.

For I am older than you, a ripe loquat waiting to be consumed. I am the full moon to your star ...Muse put honey on my tongue… If you accept I will show you immortality.

For she is raw energy raw sugar in the cane. Dreams of Paris, says lack of sex gives her constipation, needs to be assured each new day that she is beautiful, tells lies with the biggest buttery eyes, knows when you‘re trying on mind games, Narcissus loving her own thin body. I will tempt her appetite with cherry earrings asparagus spears mango juice and strawberries, take her and her bike to Tuscan poppy fields.

Her hair wafts coconut milk, I am thinking now of Fletcher Christian and Gauguin with the dusky musky women of the South seas.

Say you are not spurning me for another. Quince in my mouth, shouting in my sleep. I am thinking now of all the ships that will founder on the strength of your sweet breath. How the air chokes with the dust of Africa, and temples are just crumbling stones after all. You think that I can wait till the Nile freezes over? Trust me, me in my golden Pharaoh mask, such things have indeed come to pass.

As published in The Diamond & the Thief – February 10 edition