Anchors Against


WCTU Fountain

LOCATION: Women’s Christian Temperance Union Fountain, corner of Elizabeth and Victoria Streets, opposite Victoria Market, Melbourne

Melbourne has been referred to as “ground zero” for the temperance movement in the 1800s and, more recently, had its fair share of controversies regarding alcohol-fuelled violence and licensing. So this granite and marble fountain, featuring the classical figure of a woman pointing towards heaven, remains oddly contemporary despite its seemingly antiquated concerns. The Melbourne branch of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union, erected the station in 1901, linking suffrage and temperance and were far from a single-issue minority group. Rather, the WCTU itself can be seen as a microcosm of women’s rights and social activism and the group was, in fact, instrumental in the delivery of the “Monster Petition”.

Terri Ann Quan Sing’s work, “Anchors Against” takes the heft and weight of the physical structure to play with the abstracted imagery of sea, water and stone to create a metaphorical and metaphysical play space. Some see the future laid out clearly, with pathways and plays, but this future is adrift and ancient, tidal and changing. Raise a glass to it, or don’t, as you so chose.



slow cooling magma
phaneric rock
coarse crystal formation
a composition available to the eye
a camoprint corpse( i mean!)
quartz &feldspar:felsic
igneous argent flecks
polished &stacked like a gravestone
a polished stone home
a drinking funeral
body of water waiting
at the tram stop
sand blows off the tracks
a dusty eye waters
plane tree trichomes the air
gothic arches epiglottis
ginger hairs caught in the throat
the scrolling body
screen flickers
finger& nail
eye &skull & serotonin

:to moderate the passions
&anchor the overflow
how to reckon the
hungry rubble

debris of ancient sea skeletons piled up
compounded & so polished
appear waxy& soft
light scatters at
the sublayer under her skin
metamorphic stone the

draped flow of marble
polished light against
the ear a shell’s roar
the green waves
a marble darling:figure draped
in gently eroded stone

soft as a dusty marshmallow or
an old school eraser
the corners worn down
grime collecting in the cracks
one hand on her anchor
her sky flung gaze colonial
swells against the eye
waters drinking “for god home
&humanity” 1901
white australia
a carved visit
a weary ode to empire
a wearing out
a founded fountain
all thirsty& erect
her topmost finger lost

&may you
be set adrift
on swollen seas
the flux& flotsam
of sweet waters flowing
unanchored waters follow
drink it in against anchors that drag
against anchors against anchors against
anchors against

This work is a part of the Queen Victoria Women’s Centre collaboration, Silence Speaks, for Feminist Journeys, featured as a part of the 2020 Feminist Writers Festival.


Terri Ann Quan Sing

Author: Terri Ann Quan Sing

Terri Ann Quan Sing writes poems and writes about poems. You can find more of her work online in Peril, Stilts Poetry Journal, Meanjin, Mascara Literary Review, The Lifted Brow, and Scum Mag. She tweets @terriannqs.

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