Beyond Hydrangea by Libby Hathorn (Maroubra Cycle)


Maroubra Cycle


Behind Hydrangea


In the place

where wall meets damp wall,

where shadows meet too

lessening and deepening

but never melting away,

in a place of permanent cool

behind hydrangea,

there, back to the wall,

a small child crouches

looking out secretly

on the landscape

of a suburban yard

enshrined by stiff grey palings.

Regards the curious cultivation of that place

the sweep of grass, always stubbled short,

the straggly borders of the tentative

underblooming garden beds,

and the few disparate trees.

The sway and tilt of the yard

with all its deliberate debris,

the flung rope and toppled chair,

the woven washing basket

and the rusting, dinted peg tin,

oddments of her play.


Sees the passers by

screened by dark serrated leaves

assuming strangeness;

the mother to and from

the fluttering clothesline,

the sister, barefoot

calling and unanswered.

In the tempting loneliness

behind hydrangea

child chants soft chants

against the dampish wall,

amid the leaves and bobbing shadows

and the pale blue coral underbelly

of the clumsy blooms around her.


And tastes in the sweetness

of this solitude,

in the stillness and the quiet

behind hydrangea,

the future moment

and the origins of grief.

Parts the criss-cross stems


and runs willy-nilly wildly

to join the peopled world.


Source: Heard Singing  by Libby Hathorn.  Out of India Press, 1998



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