We girls went to a select school
that was strictly Presbyterian.
We wore hats and gloves and collars buttoned
against the summer.
We did not frequent milkbars
nor go to the local pictures.
So I never had a ‘spider’ nor ate Jaffas
at the matinee.
We led life within our family
until the family fell to pieces.
Our friends were aunts and uncles
and increasingly distant cousins.
The beach or the suburbs
in ever-diminishing circles.
We were strange beyond repair.
We had an aviary with quail and finches,
my sister raised seahorses,
my father, six battery chickens.
Holidays at Tugun.
Walks on half-mile empty beaches,
my father standing fishing the colours
of ocean water.
Camp beds in seaside houses
aluminium saucepans in one-tap kitchens.
My father made grey round and bullet sinkers
in a special sinker mould.
Aimless rides to headlands
where we sat in leathered silence.
Hours and hours on razor rock shelves
minding flathead in a basket.
Fish (no chips) in paper parcels
with a grease-mark through the bottom.
Drives to Tweed Heads — Coolangatta
that strange land across the border
where they sold Pix and beer in Groceries,
where the street lights were switched on
in a salty haze of blackness
and the car lights picked out road lines
that were magically yellow.