2010 Winners

Rosewood Green Award – Open Age Local Poetry

Second Prize

Tea at Florance’s
by Janet Findlay
Riverview, Qld

It’s not that I’m losing heart
Now that I’m sixty
It’s not that I’m shuttering down

It’s not that I’m really reaching out for
That dowdy garment called Old Age
Which starts to hang above your head
Once you stop dyeing your hair

Or is cheerfully thrust upon you
By some bright young thing in Coles
Who calls you Love and asks
Are you off to the club now dear?

Sometimes I say out loud
Jesus Christ! I’ve never played Bingo
In my life and I’m not about to start now!

And they smirk because they were right
I am a cranky old woman
Who says inappropriate things
At the checkout

And I leave
Fighting off a descending, claustrophobic shawl
With a label that reads "Old Age" Made in Despair
Spun from a collective expectation
Of diminishing hopes and dreams
Yours and mine

Because it's not that I consciously
Embrace all of this old age

It's just that I remember with a quickening heart
My rendevous at Florance's in the mid-nineties
Moving on impulse, carried by laughter
To the Top of Town with my best friend Leigh
For tea and pink-iced cakes
Before they became fashionable

And we'd celebrate the twirling ballerinas in the window
The fake waterfalls and all things kitsch
Over tea served in railway cups
By grumpy waitresses

Mixing pure gossip
With pure insight
Into our lives
For the price of a few dollars
And a few calories
Easily burned off
By our enthusiasm
and our joy

And it's just
That I don't do that now

I don't run there with my new lover "X"
For a first breakfast together
Bad coffee, white bread - who cared?
We were Tigers in Chinese Astrology
United by brilliant minds and still-youthful bodies - deluded yes!
But loving reliving our teenage years
On the mean streets of Ipswich
And hoping that nobody else
Had noticed

I remember drinking tea in a booth
And unwrapping a birthday present
Of a pair of cotton gardening gloves
From Alice whom I hardly knew - except
That she loved Florance's too

And now, Florance's has gone
And I don't even care
What's taken its place
I say that aloud because now
I'm older and more outspoken

I'm like the real locals
I used to meet
Who'd recall Cribb & Foote
And wearing white gloves to town
On a Saturday morning
Speaking in loving detail
Of department stores
With cafeterias
And child-minding places

Remembering with a sigh
The town that had a vibrant
Inner heart

Yet the fact remains
We are still beating together
Me and this place
Where I lurk - ageing

Just within its outskirts
And suddenly I'm heartened
By the memory of someone old
Who in a bold voice once said
Where there's Life there's Hope and
Hope Springs Eternal!

I can't be completely sure
Because you see, my mind's not what it used to be
But I seem to recall this happening
Over tea
At Florance's ...

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