Elizabeth Smither


Ruby and fruit

Today she’s eaten ten grapes and a mandarin.
On another day two bananas and a pear.
Easter Sunday was a chocolate embarrassment.

Eggs in foil were hidden everywhere
until the taste of sweetness palled.
She sits in an armchair with her bear

watching a kitten girl sheriff lasso
a lawbreaker and lead him off to gaol.
The grapes are replenished, surreptitiously.

Here comes her hand: eleven, twelve
grapes that match Sheriff Callie’s hat
the softest girl colour in the world.


The tablecloth

Later you’ll scrub individual stains
from its white field: the rim of someone’s glass
down which a red droplet ran, a smear
of eggy quiche, a buttered crumb.

You’ll stand over the tub and rub
as if the cloth is tiny — forget the expanse —
and you’re rubbing it against a tiny stone
in the favoured tradition. Then

under the clear water, the flowing stream
the white expanse will glow again. Ironing
will bring the creases back which enabled it
to lie dead centre on the table

and the lovely folds (napkins provided)
to fall into laps spaced in their chairs
legs stretched beneath the sumptuous screen
we walked around while we laid it.



Elizabeth Smither’s latest publication, Ruby Duby Du (Cold Hub Press, 2014) is a little suite of poems to her granddaughter, Ruby. There have been lots of Ruby poems exploring the relationship between a little girl and her grandmother. Elizabeth recently received the Janet Frame Memorial Award for Literature.