Monday, May 2, 2011

Tuesday Poem - Soulmates by Laura Smith


I bought silverbeet
and refused a bag
and as I stepped away from the checkout
it occurred to me
that I was holding it
like a bunch of flowers. But casually,
as those who are often given flowers do.

And for a moment
I walked with a jaunty step,
as those who are often given flowers do.

And I realised
I had chosen it with care,
as do those
who sometimes buy flowers,
pushing some aside to find the best,
unbruised bouquet,
the coldest one,
the one with the deepest green,
the deepest folds,
the juiciest scattering of spray-on dew.

And as I sauntered
through the autodoors
into the night
a man
stepped into my pathway
and I thought
he is going to ask for money

but instead he said
"Are those for me?"

and I couldn't help but smile,
because he thought the way I did,
and for a moment I wanted,
more than anything,
to loosen a stem
and give it to him,
like some Shakespearean hero
would give a single rose,
like people who never give flowers

But even though he'd made me smile, and
because I'd expected him to ask for money, and
because the words were already on my tongue
and the movements in my legs, I said
"No, sorry."
skirted him,
walked away.

© Laura Smith 2008
I heard Laura read this poem at a heat of Poetry Idol at Box Hill Library, and was very taken with the freshness of it. Then Laura started running these excellent readings at Cafe Sospeso which were very inclusive and yet full of surprises and so I got to know her a little. Then she stopped running them and I just never seem to see her around anymore.
By the by I loved Cafe Sospeso because they have this scheme that if you are feeling flush you pay for an extra coffee and it is put on the board, then someone who is a bit short can ask for it. It is a suspended coffee. Last time I was there there were 9 on the board and someone in front of me asked for one and no problem. The girl wiped the board and re wrote 8 and dished a coffee up to the temporarily embarrassed person. 
Laura Smith has edited poetry anthologies and short play collections, and is seeking publication for her first book of poems. In 2010 she was resident Café Poet at BookTalk Cafe, was shortlisted for the Whitmore Prize, and competed in the Poetry Idol Final. An evolving archive of her past works is available on her blog at


  1. Yes!!! Lovely lovely. I am sad about the ending though.

    I will send the link to my friend whose whole family treats vegetables this way - as beautiful as flowers and worthy of the same attention. She once took a cauliflower to a sick neighbour because it was the perfect gift.

  2. Interesting perspective. I can hear the performance in this poem.

  3. Heroism and romance meet - leafy vegetables and the real world :)

  4. I echo Mary - I'm sad about the ending! Love the poem, however, and the way it's made me think how too often we're too inflexible. Oh dear, I know I can be! I hope next time I run that risk, I think of the stem of silverbeet, proffered like a rose and rewrite the ending in my own life!

  5. yes, i like it. the ending makes it. not sad, so much as true. this is what one often does -- the unpoetic act. a poem about how we act more like silverbeet than flowers. [nothing against silverbeet tho. acutally spinach is much tastier...] :-)