The Taste of River Water

The Taste of River Water

Cate Kennedy, Scribe

I imagine Cate Kennedy must have had a similar childhood to mine because she remembers the Clarke’s two-by-six swimming pool and her dad netting leaves off the surface/in a gesture children do not yet recognise as love.

I imagine the poems in The Taste of River Water are peppered with Kennedy’s life’s experience. Fathers, mothers, babies, children, husbands, houses and rivers find their way into the poems. Of course, there’s no way of telling whether these people and things are real or created — though it hardly matters because they ring true and are traced knowingly in familiar circumstances.

It’s almost worth buying just for “Letter (2)” — a truly lovely poem: listen:/every clap is like a wingbeat/and God’s architect/once climbed out into thin air over the city/to shout his praises to glory.

“Thank You” is simple but moving: I study your fontanel, the soft/hair swirling like a map of wind.

“Windburn” is also well executed: A fleeting exchanged smile/that I heard in my pocket/like the last shell in the world.

The book itself is a lovely artefact with its restrained but striking cover and chapter headings of black bulrushes on textured cream.

I’m a huge fan of Kennedy’s short stories — and she is at the leading edge in this country in that form. Yet this modest body of poems, like a river, carries you down. It’s a memorable journey.

Marjorie Lewis-Jones


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