Gillian Telford

  of belonging

Are lives of equal value in the race for belonging?
The dispossessed survive with only traces of belonging.

Shahzia Sikander paints ‘Fifty-one Ways of Looking’.
Through ‘The Scroll’, we share her home, her place of belonging.

Lord Buddha has taut calf muscles, like an antelope.
To breathe brings contemplation in this space of belonging.

Beyond the walls, a silent street; the world’s clock turns round work.
Those left behind may never share this way of belonging.

Together, at long tables, women fashion small garments.
Like tangled threads, their grief unspools; white lace for belonging.

Late afternoon, soon the nor’easter will hassle the palms.
Wine flows, friends share old stories, embrace their belonging.

Soloist, accompanist, string quartet, orchestra:
hot-wired, eye to eye— the intense pace of belonging.

Son et lumière!” We know the cherished can bring sweet joy
yet only in ourself is the true face of belonging.


Fifty-One Ways of Looking’, Shahzia Sikander, Jenkins & Co. Sikkema, 2004
The Scroll, 1989-90’, Shahzia Sikander


Gillian Telford is an Australian poet, born in England of Irish parents, who lives on the NSW Central Coast. Her poems have been widely published in journals and anthologies and twice short-listed for the Newcastle Poetry Prize. She has two published collections, ‘Moments of Perfect Poise’ Ginninderra Press, 2008 and ‘An Indrawn Breath’ Picaro Press, 2015, the latter being assisted by a Varuna Writers Centre Fellowship.