by Kristin Henry
She had sometimes thought
what if I just stopped. It all.
And then one day she did.
She loosened till she just fell over;
well more like dropped, really.
Just hit the floor.
Right in the middle of Myer’s perfume and makeup
department, right between Revlon and Max Factor,
right beside the special offer of lipstick,
matching nail polish and a night time moisturizer
free with every purchase of more than thirty dollars
she just dropped.
Hit the floor.
Stopped doing what it takes to stand up,
just let it go, just loosened and dropped.
On Saturday morning in Myer’s.
Was she sick or crazy or brave
to lie there on the floor between the counters?
People knelt beside her;
those that didn’t stepped away
to let her get on with it, whatever it was,
but looked from behind the pierced earring displays,
pretending to be buying necessary, urgent pairs
of pierced earrings, and why should they wait
just because some woman took a fit
or something, in perfume and make up.
The kneelers asked if she was sick.
Was this an epileptic seizure or a heart attack,
was there a doctor in the house?
And she looked into the faces.
Looked and blinked and never said a word
because she stopped talking too.
Right there, and maybe not forever, but just then
she just stopped, and dropped
and let her mouth go slack.
The jaw just dropped and her eyes blinked,
so they knew, them kneeling on the floor,
that she was still alive and conscious
only something must be awfully wrong.
The stretcher men got no help.
They had to lift, they tried to roll,
they nearly doubled over but she didn’t help,
she didn’t move, she never said a word.
She let them pull and tug and roll her and
she hung just limp and heavy, and she
never said a word or even thought a word,
although she heard the buzz and hum around her
and she saw a lot of legs.
But she never said a word, and they must push
and pull for she would not move, for she had
stopped, just let go, stopped and flopped
and dropped between Revlon and Max Factor.
She was tired and she just stopped.
She was born in Tennessee and migrated to Australia when she was seventeen. That was decades ago; she has been an Aussie a long time now. Her poetry, which has a wide range, from wry and witty to hauntingly beautiful, is informed by both her home countries. Some of her cadences and ways of putting words together sound distinctly American to me; other turns of phrase obviously come from long participation in Australianness. Her personality, too, combines American ease and charm with down-to-earth Aussie irreverence — while her warmth is all her own!
The blurb from her half of Stingers (a book shared with the late Doris Leadbetter) tells us that ‘Her work has been set to music, exhibited with paintings, adapted for theatre and turned into posters for Melbourne trains.’
She is a very active and popular performer and workshop leader; the link at her name, above, gives you more details. However the best account of her relationship with poetry is at her website, in her own words. She is an engaging prose writer too!
You will also find details of her books at her website. Those still in print are available from the author, who can be contacted at kristinh01 at optusnet dot com dot au ('at' and 'dot' signs written out, and spaces introduced, to foil robots!).
I couldn’t find much of her poetry online, but have a look here and here. Some of her poems are autobiographical; many are works of fiction, stories and characters wonderfully imagined. Watch out for her forthcoming verse novel, All the Way Home, due out in May this year.
Poems and photos used in ‘I Wish I’d Written This’ remain the property of the copyright holders (usually their authors).