The girls at our house
love pink clothes.
The lint in the clothes drier filter is pink.
We play with our babies,
our dolls and our bears,
dress them and put them to bed.
Chloe makes chicken farms from boxes,
or birthday cards,paints pictures.
She swings on the swing,
rides her tricycle.
Claire wants to grow up
and do these things too.

Chloe is doing new things
at kindergarten which she
mostly enjoys… except … for… boys !
They put on Batman capes,
they run around after people
pointing two fingers at them
and yelling loud banging noises !
why would they do that ?
Daddy says that’s what boys do,
just as girls play babies and put them to bed.
That’s what girls do. Chloe says it
is not strange to do girl things.

Two boy cousins came with Auntie
to stay for three days last Christmas.
They ran round the house
pointing two fingers at people
and yelling loud banging noises.
they jumped high on the trampoline
and shouted all the time.
Daddy laughed !

Chloe was shocked !  Stern faced
she walked along to the bedroom,
to peace and quiet with dolls
and bears, pink clothes, and
the box full of hair ribbons and clips.

After a time of tranquility
she crept back to the living room
and curled up on Daddy’s knee
while he hugged her close.


Birthday Dinner

We are going to dinner at Nana’s place
so that Mummy won’t have to
cook dinner or do dishes
on her birthday.
We are having dinner there early
so that we will be home
for our usual bedtime.
School and kindergarten tomorrow!

We are not wearing party dresses !
How can we not wear party dresses
to a birthday dinner ?
We will put on our necklaces and bracelets.
Claire wears two necklaces,
Chloe wears five.
Mummy says it is time to go !
Daddy does up Claire’s bracelets.
Chloe’s necklace from great granny
breaks a string of pink beads
and Chloe is so upset !
Mummy has to cut that string off,
they pick up the beads up off the floor.
She does up Chloe’s bracelets to cheer her up.

Nana rings to see if we are alright
because Mummy was so sure
she wanted dinner early.
Mummy says we will be there soon !

Now we are all in the car.
Mummy wanted to leave
fifteen minutes ago
but we were dressing up because
it was her birthday dinner !



Birthday Dinner

Chocolate Cake

Sitting on the bottom step
from Nana’s deck
the three year old feasts
energetically and enthusiastically
on Nana’s chocolate birthday cake.
With both feet planted
firmly on the grass she
grasps her plate on her lap
in both hands while chewing
the sumptuous mouthful.
She rolls its rich moist texture
around in her mouth
as she chews it.

She carefully lets go of
her plate with one hand
and lifts her cake
biting into it deeply.
Icing coats her nose, chin cheeks,
as she plunges her teeth
into the heavenly food.
Her hand grasps her plate again,
only a small piece of cake
now sits in the centre
as she chews the new mouthful
savouring it happily.

Her father on the grass nearby
takes candid shots
of her wholehearted joy
in cake and icing.

He has several similar photos.
Maybe he will bring them out
for her twenty first birthday.






Chocolate Cake

From The Living Room Window

From the wide open
living room window I see
the shrubs lining the garden path
backed by bright pink roses-
an uncontrolled tide flowing
luxuriantly over the trellis
all glowing in the afternoon sun.

Beyond this flourishing growth
the four year old’s curly head
turns from side to side,
nods up and down as she
works in the sandpit.
She tells her bucket and spade
she is making a vase
for the big green leaves.
She tells her watering can
they will give the leaves water.
She tells the little plastic bear
he will have the shade of
the big leaves to sit under.

The end of a black furry tail
moves to and fro around
her head, her shoulders.
Its tip drops into a hook,
flicks upright, then flicks
into a hook again as
the black and white cat
rubs around her, absorbing
her bright chatter
her earnest play
in the afternoon sunshine.

From The Living Room Window

The Little Pink Tricycle

The little pink tricycle
with its fat white wheels
was given to Chloe
when she started to walk.

After Chloe turned four
she rode the  big tricycle
– with pedals.
Now Claire happily rushed
the little pink tricycle
up and down the drive.

At four Claire tried riding
the big tricycle – with pedals.
It was slower than the pink tricycle.
Her blue Christmas scooter
was fast and fun to ride, but
Claire still remembered good times
with the pink tricycle. still rushed it
up and down the drive.

As time went on it was not such fun.
At last Claire had to see that her knees
would not fit under the handlebars.
The little pink tricycle went slowly
now her knees had to stay
out to the sides.

With some regret she now
leaves it in the garage.

The Little Pink Tricycle

Picking Flowers

Tall trees shade
the garden’s back corner
where plants sprawl over the ground
in a rampant wilderness.
Violets spread prolifically
around gnarled tree roots
their clumps of leaves
speckled with tiny purple flowers.
Wandering Jew crawls
over tree roots
around violets and
clumps of long stemmed grass.
Bright green oxalis starred
with tiny mauve flowers
fills in the gaps.

The three year old is
enthralled by this
multi – hued carpet
dappled light and dark
by wind fluttering leaves;
enchanted by its flowers and
and tall grass seed stems.

She walks through it
picking flowers and seed stems,
followed by the black and white cat
who stares up at the branches
watching birds fly away
when his collar bell jingles.

Picking Flowers

St Kilda’s Bay Lament

You and she had four bright days   on southern tussocked hills.
On Monday night in jagged pain   you crumpled to the floor.

On Friday morning there we sat   baffled, unbelieving,
in the chapel, at the cemetery   above St Kilda’s Bay.

Up at five that morning   for two hours she drank tea,
listening to your skirling pipes   cry from your CD player.

We listened to your eulogies   told by friends and clan,
while to our left the windowed wall   showed us St Kilda’s Bay.

Vast clouds billowed, black and grey,   dark seas endless stretched.
The waves were surging back and forth   down on St Kilda’s Bay.

She did not want you rushed away   after your hymns and rites.
By your casket at the windows’ end   she stood alone with you.

Did you see her ? Did you hear her ?   She bent down and leant her head,
her arms, on your timbered chest,   for you had deserted her.

She smoothed one hand in circles   on the wood that shrouded you,
trying to draw you back   from beyond St Kilda’s Bay.

We kept our distance by the doors   in that keening silence.
At last she turned, walked to us,   your fourteen year bond severed.

Dark grey clouds were billowing,   the gulls and wind screamed out.
The waves were surging back and forth   around St Kilda’s Bay.



St Kilda’s Bay Lament

A Cup Of Tea

On Bob’s priceless Saturdays
every minute must be used.

Today rush through the shower
dress in weekend clothes
devour eggs and toast.
Time for a cup of tea
before collecting cousin Jim
from the airport to stay the week.
Check the day’s list of jobs
while the teabag in the mug
brews a rich strong hue.

*#@%#*! We need the wood
for Uncle Tom this morning
to put in skirting around
the new laundry !
Bob leaves his tea to brew,
drives around to the timber yard,
puts the timber in his station wagon.

Fred at the checkout watches
through the showroom window,
waits for him to come and pay.
But Bob sits in his car again
and does not move.
Fred runs out, stares at Bob,
then calls an ambulance.

Bob’s wife and son
white faced, stunned,
come with police
to identify, answer questions.
Bob is taken away.

Back in their silent home
in the kitchen they see
the tea bag
sitting in its mug.
The tea is now a rich strong hue.

A Cup Of Tea

Watering The Dandelion

She was watering the dandelion
as I rounded the house
returning late from work.
She said its lush green magnificence
should be allowed to thrive.
Missing the tending of her own loved garden
she watered mine
twelve thousand miles away.

On this last visit to her birthplace,
her marauding white cells
were defeating the red,
defying her chemical breakfasts.

Her next journey would be different
after a final departure
from beloved husband and children,
already she missed them deeply.
They would follow their own roads.
Her road with its merciless twists
was Peter Pan’s big adventure.

As she faded away
after long isolation
in a stark white hospital bed,
primrose walls palely recalled
that dandelion brilliance,
lushly green and golden in the sun.

Watering The Dandelion

A Fox Crossed Barley Lane

A fox crossed Barley Lane at dusk
trotting from his den on the heath
towards the scattered Essex farms
to hunt for a springtime dinner of hens,
ducks, geese with newly hatched young,
He passed a farm labourer plodding along
the rutted track to a meagre dinner.
The fox would dine better than he tonight.

A fox crossed Barley Lane at dusk
trotting from his den on the heath
towards the prosperous Essex farms
keenly seeking a poultry dinner
from their large abundant barns.
He briskly rounded the loaded wagons
creaking along the potholed track.
His mind was on his dinner.

A fox crossed Barley Lane at dusk
trotting from his den on the heath
to seek his dinner at Essex farms and
backyards along the High Road
crossing Barley Lane as it followed
the new railway with its deafening trains.
It took more work to extract his dinner
but he always filled his stomach.

A fox crossed Barley Lane at dusk.
He left his den in the woodland patch
in the park by the Essex hospital,
hunting his dinner in the long backyards
of houses built up round  Barley Lane.
Poultry was rare but cats and rabbits
were there to be eaten in moonlit gardens.
He rushed across through a narrow slit
in bumper to bumper urban traffic.
Now for his lip licking dinner.




A Fox Crossed Barley Lane