a touch of succulence on Barkly Street

this would have to be Footscray
where else to find the Melbourne Chinese Bible Church
but on Barkly Street

a launderette
an empty ex-Vietnamese eatery
and a combination flower shop and coffee parlour
of deep blue looks that might have been transplanted
from a place altogether more salubrious
as suggested by the decorative lounge setting
and specimens of local intelligentsia
absorbed in gazette gossip
surrounded as they sit by bouquets in tin buckets
and the smell of incense burning so strong
that interloper I
am driven out onto the street
like an ill-tolerated and poorly reconstructed gauche
to sit at varnished plywood on the footpath
atop a lumpen sixties-vinyl kitchen chair
forced to a straight back like a child at a school desk

there are identical parasols visible through the window
seen behind a reflection off the glass frontage
they seem pretty delicacies
perhaps Chinese
but more likely the Footscray Market on Saturday

my table boasts an electroplated teapot
anchored safely in the embrace of an unused ashtray
it is a lushness this pouring device
succulents reach from the spout
and protrude from beneath the lid
a small touch of florist on the footpath
lest one forget there is more than a single purpose here

Margharita’s next door is closed
the hanging sign dates back to my childhood
she sold children’s wear and gifts

© Frank Prem, 2002


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