My First Issue of Ms.

I was at Auckland Airport (why)?
It was the late ’70s (perhaps).
I needed (needed!) something to read
so I lobbed up at the news stand.

Unhopefully. But there it was.
The youngish guy who sold it me
said dolefully —
“There aren’t a lot of laughs.”

But as I said
when I wrote to them —
I get enough laughs already
stuffing a mushroom.

(Not that I ever had.
You understand.
A mushroom.)

Ms. printed my letter
in the next issue.
I was stoked.
We used to write each other letters.

When I wrote to Spare Rib, Virago Press,
Doris Lessing, Shirley Hazzard,
and affixed the stamp,
they wrote back.

The sheet of quarto
rolled into the Remington,
(or Olivetti, mayhap)
the clattering, and at the end

of the line, the bell rings!
Then the envelope which
often went skewiff.
The fold, the stuff, the lick.

The taste of glue. (Fft fft.)
Doris wrote on flimsy blue
in fading biro slanting
across and down.

(Her missive turned up
under a feather
on my doorstep
which seemed apt.)

And Shirley wrote, elegantly,
of chaps she quite liked.

Jennifer Compton


Jennifer Compton lives in Melbourne and is a poet and playwright who also writes prose.

© 2020