common or garden poets #5 – Jill McKeowen inviting Irina Frolova


suburban garden song

for Irina Frolova

…songs that save us…

…the slow luscious note of gardenias

Kathryn Fry, ‘Impromptu’


the koel song has arrived, rolling

from the leafy night

as wattle bird cracks the dawn

step out

to the warming world, crimson

lanterns of bottlebrush lit

in a thousand filaments


overnight the young orb

has hung its web, renewal glistening

from awning to gardenia     

on the cusp

of summer, soft as crepe, expiring

waves of perfume

to November’s purple sky

they’ll melt in time to creamy yellow

burn to bronze and fall

like cotton sheets on summer skin

the garden is for being

as we are, a daily practice

not quite finished, and when I’m gone

no-one will know the details


how I sit in the dirt pulling weeds

or digging my fingers in

with the planting of good ideas

                                        the garden guides us

through our small mortality

adapting and enduring, says

this is how it feels to be alive


like every plant, the human body’s

impulse is to heal while moving

yet toward its end


a blue-tongue lizard slides through

the litter of gardenia leaves

and blueberry lily knots


at dusk, vermillion cloud vibrates

in each geranium petal disappearing

to inevitable night  

the roots of life

weave with worms and detritus

and insects sing the white moon

for summer’s returning arc


common or garden poets #5 – Jill McKeowen inviting Irina Frolova Read More »

Irina Frolova

Irina Frolova was born in Moscow in 1981, in the former Soviet Union. She moved to Australia in 2003, and now lives on the Awabakal land in NSW with her three children and two fur babies.

Irina has a degree in philology from Moscow City Pedagogical university, and she is currently studying psychology at Deakin University.

Her work has appeared in Not Very QuietAustralian Poetry CollaborationBaby Teeth JournalRochford Street ReviewThe Blue Nib, and The Australian Multilingual Writing Project, as well as various anthologies. 

Irina is a regular at Newcastle Poetry at the Pub where she was a featured poet in January,2019.

Her first collection of poetry Far and Wild was published by Flying Island Books in January, 2021.

 Far and Wild speaks to the experience of immigration and a search for belonging. It draws on fairy-tales and explores archetypes through cultural and feminist lenses. 

The following poems were included in Far and Wild.

how long

I could tell you

how the snow glistened in the midday sun

                                                                 like razor blades

how we shivered

every time the bus stopped and opened its doors

                                                                glazed with frost

how I thawed my feet

on the radiator reclaiming my toes in a moment’s

                                                            excruciating victory

how on sports days

at school we had to bring skis as well as bags

                                                                        of textbooks

how every family

with children owned a sled and some days we all

                                                            looked like Rudolph

how snowflakes

floated above us    their perfect shapes melting

                                                                 on our eye-lashes

how he kissed

me in the wind not caring for tomorrows

                                                                      of cracked lips

how far

winters stretched   from October well into April

                                                                             most years

how odd

these parching southern summers have been

                                                                                how long

Baba Yaga Next Door

Pigeon-feeding, vodka-drinking,

winking, grinning


silver-haired vixen. She

is a cautionary tale.

Some said loony,

others – lonely,

no one really came too close.

Fear the old maid,

watch the crone:

one, who dares

to grow old

on her own

tiny pension

in her clutter-filled room.

Are they skulls around

her home?

Will she eat your little kids?

Curse you? Free you?

Will she make you

see the forest

through the whispers

of the darkness

in the old bony trees?

Irina Frolova Read More »