When I think we girls,
I think Summer of the Seventeenth Doll. Our summer,
when we caught the train back from playing pool
with the US sailors in port
and I fell asleep on your lap
the sailor hat I’d earned wedged on.
Back home, you have that hat with all our treasures lined up,
like the kewpie dolls Roo would bring Olive
back from the canefields.
I remember being in Innisfail after Larry†,
the thicket of palm leaves and sugar cane capturing the road
and on the TV that night a man crying, dead bananas at his feet:
me Dad started this farm and now me sons wont be able to work it.
And I wish someone had taught me
to hide photographs in bottom drawers,
a lock of hair under my pillow. The three of us
kept ours in different colours — red, blonde and black —
us pretty girls all in a row.
Where I live now, bananas cost 70 cents a pound.
I have no way to explain how precious they are.
Caitlin Maling (Western Australia)
From Conversations I've never had (Fremantle Press 2015)
† Severe Tropical Cyclone Larry, Queensland, 2006