He starts the day by lighting incense in the neck
of her vase. She breathes in a gust of wind until the scent fills her.
His hands, which she has seen break tree branches as thick as his arm,
tappity-patter the bongo drums. The rhythm pulses through her chest
of drawers. She sings along
with wooden wind chime voice, out of time but melodic.
He eats lunch at the table, his leg touching hers.
He pays no attention to the view through her windows
even when she swings and whines with rusty hinges.
He reads a magazine with ads for shampoo, models with dyed
blonde hair. Part of her palm tree comes through the window,
a few fingers brush the open page.
The fringe of her frond is yellow from sunlight.
He leaves her, walks away down the street
comes back with a sprig of frangipani, pink as a blush.
He tucks the stem into her thick fronds
layered across the windowsill. She feels warm inside,
shades him with her maroon veil.
He lies down to rest on her white cushioned forehead.
When the kookaburras laugh on the power line outside,
her ferns rustle, shhhhhh, and the birds fly away.
His snores vibrate through her chest
as vibrantly as bongo beats.
I met Sophie Tarrant up in Brisbane at the Riverbend reading (she runs a reading called Below Deck which I must get to next time I am up that way.) And then she was in Melbourne just as I was putting on a Big Read at Collected Works for NZ Poetry Day, so I invited her along and after dithering over Janet Frame and Chris Price she chose to read Glen Colquhoun, and was a total asset. Later that night she gave me her chapbook Memories of Home and I liked it a lot and chose the verandah poem because of its evocation of Brisbane (such a spirit of place!) and the charm of the personification of the verandah.
Hear her read her poem.