Vivian Smith


The Violin Case

A violin case on a suburb street,
left there open, rotting in the rain,
its velvet lining damp as violets—

Remember shipshape Hobart in the forties
and Pauline Spong who lived along our road?
She used to walk straight past us every day
in her school blazer, almost wearing pearls,
a violin case always in her hand.
My cousin thought her la- di- da and proud.

One wet day we caught her running home,
her case flew open and out fell her purse
and half a dozen spuds rolled down the street.
My cousin was so shocked she nearly cried.

And I remember how I also lied:
my ‘sister’ tortured by the Japanese,
a Red Cross nurse who worked in Singapore;
my ‘brother’ shot down in the Pyrenees.



Vivian Smith, poet and editor, lives in Sydney. His numerous publications include nine collections of poems, various anthologies and studies of Australian poetry, and an edition of Nettie Palmer’s Fourteen Years.