The Heart is in the Garden, poetry by Bee Williamson, 2013

Speckled with melodic, alliterative phrases such as “the birds are the bridges” (intro), this book conveys communication between Mala (scribe) and Deva (muse) in an interplay of formal and colloquial language. Compare the lingo of “so just shoot, ask me a question!” (p.38) with: “languid in repose, / we ruminate on life” (p.33). “The eclectic suffering of our people” (p.25) encapsulates the spiritual alchemy of this collection. References to Sufi, Indian, African, Jewish, Amerindian, Tao and Christian figures mingle with Celtic animistic overlaps between tree & person, interwoven with Aboriginal lore; e.g. the Mimi (p.20); “the spirit that inhabits the land” (p.40) embraces the Dreaming, acknowledging how “the aboriginal population… have been beguiled and belittled” (p.56). This overlays the “Buddhic realm” (p.24); “transcendental consciousness” (p.25); “Bodhi Gaia, the tree of enlightenment where the Buddha sat” (p.67) and an overt tribute to the Dalai Lama. Such allusions enjoy organic integration, celebrating “all earth’s tribes” (p.71). Hints of idealism reach for “spiritual progress”, yet this poetry is a humble record of “dialogue between the garden and my soul” (p.8) at times with acute command, urging: “Talk planet talk!” (p.11) prompting us to ask: how well can we listen? Structurally, verses ramble like vines in an extended metaphor. I found this comforting, and smiled with irony at the eucalyptus leaves on the book’s cover as a bushfire raged toward our station platform last Summer. Incidentally, this edition is visually superb. Reception might be hampered by lapses in spelling, grammar or punctuation, as in confusion of to / too, wonder / wander and affect / effect. Granted, this can enhance subtle ambivalence; “Your everything” could either mean “You are / you’re” or “Your” for possession or belonging, given intermingling of being and place: poet as sibyl, transcending detail. Similarly, use of “rapt” for “wrapped” (p.67) feels appropriate for rapture. Oversights are natural in channelling or communion. On the other hand, proof-reading might help more readers to access the beauty being shared, if communication is not only between muse and scribe, but also between poet and reader? Bee’s poetic vision is genuine, rare and magical. It would be an editor’s honour to tend this garden of verse. Poetic references include Rumi – “let your tongue become that flower” (p.73); Whitman’s Leaves of Grass; Blake’s more ecstatic poems; and Rilke’s Sonnets to Orpheus and Dueno Elegies, which explore nature as mute divinity awaiting Naming, charging us to hear and heed; attuning or retuning ourselves to its wavelength. “We speak of earth time under a splendid banner”: great line. A lucid moment rises, dignified above the vapidity of our era, like this symmetry (p.19):

The Sun drops
it sways
it is smooth

The sun falls asleep,
it slips
it sways