Common or Garden Poets #3 – Gail Hennessy inviting Kathryn Fry


Our Eclectic Garden

for Kathryn Fry

                                                                           Under the curtaining wisteria

                                                                           who will take banana peel

                                                                           to the orchids? Who will shiver the dew

                                                                          over the freesias and the thryptomene?

                                                                          Jean Kent, ‘In My Mother’s Garden’


for every house called home

there is a frame

with you the constant gardener


plants are portals into the past

like illustrations from a Book of Hours


in Spring

bulbs corms and tubers

push through the earth

purloined cuttings take on new life


my grandmother’s ivory freesias

heavy the air with the smell of childhood

my mother’s blood red dahlia petals

open as big as proverbial dinner plates

tree ferns from my brother

uncoil to feather the sky

your mother’s asparagus fern flows against

your ceramic I named ‘Midnight in the Garden of Good’


pink azaleas paint

the garden facing the street

to a postcard memory from our student days

Utrillo’s Les Maison Roses


in the beginning

friends from Canberra arrived

their car filled

with root balled camellias

to fill the courtyard in winter

with leaf gloss and flower


sometimes I change the names

Commander Mulroy becomes Sawada’s Dream

identical camellias white edging to pink

and who wouldn’t be tempted

to swap the military for romance?



when the nursery was out of stock

Soul Sister became a substitute Julia’s Rose

the name I want to remember her by


it’s a league of nations

Chinese Jasmine a pillar of grounded stars

climbs skyward around a verandah post

Callistemon rubs shoulders with Nandina Domestica


the front door key waits

for family and friends

under the stone god from Bali

its plinth a home for slaters and worms


tiger worms recycle kitchen scraps

you shovel ash from the hearth

I offer coffee grounds to the hydrangeas


our Labrador composts

under a camellia holding memories

of his faithful welcome home

a lap of honour circling the clothesline


fish laze the pond

in circles of gold

frogs surface to deafen the evenings


today we watch the bowerbird

decorating his edifice

squawk and hop

black sheen on the wing

meticulous arranger of blue

clothespegs milk container tops


over the back fence

a bushland reserve houses

bandicoots and water dragons

possums blue tongues and owls

the ironic laughter of kookaburras


our place in the connectedness of things.



Gail Hennessy


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