This year is the twentieth anniversary of my publication of Joyce Lee’s It is nearly dark when I come to the Indian Ocean, her collected works 1965–2003. Lee died in 2007.
I was and still am proud that this life’s work of another writer continues to be available — with the help of the National Library of Australia’s TROVE.
—Stephen J. Williams
What is the confidence of a girl?
How does she make herself and with what rules?
The women of the late geometric period
Have eyes high up in their minds
And brows always lifted in surprise.
Their ears, pricked up, are tuned to truthfulness.
They do not hear the living clamor.
Where is the pivot of all the sadness?
They open their mouths but no sound comes out.
Blame their frankly strange anatomy
Of legs like spikes for holding firm
Of their arms to search for meanings and
Of their bell-shaped bodies.
Unsurprisingly, their breasts are small
Since there is no use for them
In the other world, where, ironically, kindness
And love are brought from fountains.
Girls know a woman is a series of enclosures
A darkness, and a maze.
They know what wishes are
And that for every girl there are two birds
One dancing and one still
One feathered, one un-winged.
Remember, girls, remember, men:
Those buried without their mouths
Those buried voiceless—
They were shaken but still sing.
And when women sing, all tremble.