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Tomatoes, harbour

  • 22 August 2017
 Selected poems




you fade into the hospital white

above your head a row of floral Hallmark cards

as a husband’s garden once filled every available

backyard space with colour

the glasshouse arrived after retirement

& the run of chooks from neighbour’s fence

to neighbour’s fence

the breadth a quarter acre of block saving labour

you only had to build one side & cut a gate

& bring it down after a son left home

the window offers no view 

but in the addled wisdom of over ninety years

a cruise ship drifts a flicker of something missed

as new owners would grow 

in a legacy of thick rich soil staked against the back fence

tomatoes tasting like tomatoes 





To arrive in the most Australian of cities

& sit at Martin Place

an hour after the ANZAC march

smoke a cigarette

the absent father

his medals still in the top draw


Pubs tiled to the eves

a clink of a new language

for drinking on the pavement


A street scape hangs

between a sound & light & prayer

in the alfoil hollow of ourselves darkness


Each terrace has a plaque

a history of nursing hedged in & clinging

an edge of wailing on an edge of view


Small bowls long beers & cigarettes

against the gathering crowds


This mad big blustering city

hands on its hips hustling the wind

staring out to sea


Harbour ripples dreams

table cloths, tea towels & boomerangs


High vis & one dollar coffee

building a city out of a city

the wind is all gesture & tamed


To the beaches perched between bush & cliffs

jewellery & ferry spray

a march of limbs against the Pacific of our lives


Waves build & flounder

a suburb of things to do romance rushes

palms around the first beer of the day

post grunge trellising vines to the roof of the world

streets turn themselves inside out

where a post code is a haiku


& there is shopping

the department stores are all new season

& there is not a cloud in the sky


I have been here three days

& already have given others wrong direction twice


A weave of lanes & a spread of sand

tumbling water pushed between headlands

an unsocked toe dips o so gently into surf


The hum of the afternoon

strollers take up half the footpath

curve & swerve & cars backed up

& a shop sells four hundred dollar shoes


There is a heart beating here

a commerce of breath

a sleeper on the boardwalk

a foam over our eyes

neighbourhoods & icons

a bridge & an opera house gifts for the new life



A diver’s toes curl over the block

a spring faith threaded plunge

as a needle would sew a seam between day & night



Rory Harris teaches at CBC Wakefield Street, South Australia.