Victoria Broome

How We Talk to Each Other

Dad talks through the vegetables in the garden.
Every house he lived in he made one. Onions hung
in mum’s old laddered stockings in the garage,
scarlet runners, new potatoes and shelled peas for Christmas.
Then Mum would spend the end of summer in the kitchen
preserving red tomatoes, claret beetroot, gifted fruit,
setting wax into jars of chutneys, jams and sauces.
All year we ate them and apple jelly from the Irish Peach tree in her father’s yard.
He sawed a branch off and painted the stump white to stop it bleeding.
Years later when I was a grown up, still creating distance from the past,
plastic bags of broad beans, silver beet, carrots, parsnip, tomatoes, basil,
courgettes, rested against the door when I got home.
And I stood at the sink, peeling, boiling, freezing.
Eating the unspoken messages.

The Maori

In the dark we drive through the bright tunnel
to the ferry terminal. It’s very exciting.
There are crowds of people and we buy
tightly rolled packets of streamers.
It’s cold out on the wharf, our breath
is steamy. I feel as if I am in a movie
and will see myself at the pictures.
I hear the slap of water from under the wooden planks
and the deep pulsing hum of the ships engine.
There’s Dad at the railing with his wavy hair.
He’s laughing and waving and we throw
the streamers through the air and the long striped strips
pull tight and we run along beside him until they break.
I am shouting – Bring me back a tiki.
Victoria Broome was one of the inaugural Hagley Writers’ Institute students. She has been published in various journals and anthologies in NZ, and in recent years was twice highly commended in the Kathleen Grattan poetry award. She is a mental health worker in primary care in ChCh.