Reading the signs in FNQ

i. Vows at Paronella Park

The girls wear sorbet or gelato. Soft frothed fabric, tart
and cool and sweet. Foamed with egg whites.

Their hair, blonded or blacked; their pale shoulders inked
with birds and skulls and butterflies. As if artifice
could exceed themselves, celebrating here
in the mossy turrets of someone else’s dream.

They smile in front of Mena Falls; in misted spray, suspended.
And lean on the wall of the pool, where the crocodile stirs, hungry.

ii. Hens’ weekend Palm Cove

In the swish cafe by the hotel pool
the chicks sit (well-plucked and exfoliated) nearby
the bride-to-be, in mock tiara (rhinestone stilettos).
Her long dark locks; the very straightest of them all.

The chooks (and cheque book) sit apart, all
highlighted roots, and black and white linen.
Italian sandals, of course (sensible heels).

Along the beachside strip, Saturday Harleys promenade;
slow enough to wobble. Cocktail lychees bob in melted ice.
Prawns wilt on plates. Sauces grow skins.

You can read those same signs on the beach, ten steps away
from the chapel. CROCODILES inhabit this area. KEEP AWAY
from the water’s edge. DO NOT ENTER the water, no matter
the size of your engagement ring.

Helen Thurloe


Helen Thurloe is a Sydney writer. Her poems have won national awards, and appear in several anthologies. Her first novel, Promising Azra, was published by Allen & Unwin in 2016.

© 2019