The Other Side: A Poem from Sydney

Balls Head Reserve, Sydney Harbour

I recently lived for eighteen months on the north side, in Waverton. One of the precious finds across the bridge was Balls Head Reserve, flanked by Sydney Harbour on three sides. This Reserve of 23 acres of bushland with native flora and fauna, Aboriginal sites, and spectacular views, was first explored by Lieutenant Henry Lidgbird Ball, Commander of the ship Supply in the First Fleet of 1788.

I used to go there every day to walk, meditate and marvel at the scenery and wild life. There’s nothing like it on the eastern side. One day I caught sight of Wild Oats Eleven practising on the harbour.

There were several favourite places where I liked to sit and meditate, before continuing on my daily exercise.


The Other Side

Within this secret womb
where reeds and limbs embrace
and water-lapping sounds wash over me
as sailing boats and gulls glide into view
I sit in lotus poss and close my eyes and
breathe in bushland smells
as fresh and crisp as newborn dew that
lift me up as if to hover air-born
on the other side

In symphony with mystic signs of
currawongs carrolling
and ancient ferries passing by
liquefying mind in sight and sounds
on the other side

Smell the salt from seas brought on the winds
swishing soft past ear and hair as far
away floating giants stir up wakes of foam
and head for open seas—America over there
I dream of fish flying in the spray
and magic eyries in which eagles lay their eggs
and plovers quiver guarding young
from snakes and lizards prey

Shedding human wiles
I meld becoming one with all
with grass and sky and harbour waters on

© Anne Skyvington




2 responses to “The Other Side: A Poem from Sydney”

  1. Ian Harry Wells Avatar
    Ian Harry Wells

    I have a theory that poetry is meant to be read aloud so whenever I approach poetry I do so reading it out loud to better appreciate the poet’s work. When I read ‘The Other Side’ I followed this practice.

    My judgement (how pretentious!) is twofold;
    1. aesthetically it pleased me as it was well constructed and seemed to ‘flow’ (is that an aesthetic?) in other words it had excellent meter,
    2. and emotionally it also struck a chord with its references to sailing boats, gulls, currawongs, ferries, plovers, salt from the seas and foam … all these concepts things I hold dear.

    I guess it has one golden detail that I can grab onto to heap praise … it details (well) our beloved coastline!

    1. Anne Skyvington Avatar
      Anne Skyvington

      Hi Ian
      Thanks for your comments. Yes, flowing is definitely an aesthetic. I think it’s one of the positives of my writing in general: a lyrical aspect.
      I’m glad you liked the motifs too. What about the metaphor of “the other side”? I suspect that it has a spiritual meaning for me, as well. That
      is, there’s always another side to things — an opposite, a polarity — to everything. And, perhaps, a side of things on earth that we can’t see,
      in a religious or metaphysical sense, but that we know is there. Back to philosophy again! Sometimes it’s easier to express these ideas in poetry.
      What do you think?

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