Barbara Bell

Barbara Bell grew up in the Barossa Ranges and did most of her schooling by correspondence. She trained as a nurse, then married and nursed again in later years. She started writing seriously when she retired and have had work published in anthologies etc as well as in Friendly Street Poetry Readers for several years.

Paraguay 1894

They wed beneath
the green and gold canopy,
ecstatic –
as if the orange trees
had chosen them
for the first festival
to celebrate the new land –
this New Australia.
They spoke their vows in Spanish
forgetting the long journey
the rough huts

the heat and mosquitoes –
defected when dissension
rumbled between their elders.
Back in real Australia
they found their Shangri-la
among red gums and wattles.
Here I grew
and grandma
ran a black lace mantilla
through her fingers
like a rosary
as she told
and retold her story.

From Friendly Street No. 17


Swan-necked Peruvian ladies
wide-eyed beneath
Barbara Cartland lashes
advance and inspect the tourists
from a semicircle

Neatly clad in downy coats
of cream and chocolate,
mottled black and white
they wander off
to browse beneath the gums,
these nonchalant New Australians.

From Fluorescent Voices: Friendly Street No. 21


At the Alice
the broom was her weapon
against the flies, dust
and the glint of a lizard

when the fiery sun rose
over the river bed
her shadow fell across the veranda
as she swept

in the evening
her reflection reversed
as she and the broom gyrated
in the febrile light

At Belair now
the stubbled broom
brings glimpses of wattle
on coarse red sand.

From Friendly Street No. 22