Tess Driver


Tess Driver lives between the sea and the Aldinga scrub. Her poetry has featured in the libretto of the opera My Love My Life and the script of Red. She has won poetry prizes, most recently the South Australian Poetry Competition. For many years she lived in England, America and Asia returning to Australia to teach Communication Skills, Drama, English and Creative Writing. Completing an M.A. at Adelaide University, she now writes full time. Her first collection, Kite Lady, was published in Friendly Street New Poets 8 (Friendly Street Poets/ Wakefield Press, March 2003).

New Poets 8 can be purchased direct from the Wakefield Press website.

Bathing with Serpents

she filled the bath with fruit
took off her clothes
folded them with care
hung cherries behind each ear
then dived among the strawberries and figs

before the peaches bruised
she ate them all
wiped golden juice
across her breasts
smashed the watermelon
hard against the tap
watched pink chunks fall
slurped flesh then spat its black seeds

lustily sang of ecstasies,
licked white banana flesh
softly firm
crunched apples while Adam
writhed between her thighs

her feast was lonely cold
and very sweet
they found her drowned in juice
sticky lipped with mango flesh
eyes wide reflecting serpents.

From Flow: Friendly Street No. 25

Party Dress

Fragile as the truth
it hangs on a crocheted hook
covered in white blossom,
a gossamer memory.

All that time,
season to season
green embroidered petals
now pale and frayed,
danced on cream silk,
styled with tucks for secrets.

So slim, two large hands
could fit around the waist.
Kisses flutter moth-like
from the neck-line
once softly curved
over quivering breasts.

A million silken threads
to create a dream.
Touch it gently
or it will unravel
in your hands.

From Blue: Friendly Street No. 27

Kite Lady

Kite lady stretches, runs fingers
through stringy, grey hair.
It’s windy today on the beach,
good for selling kites ….
there’s a surf life-saving carnival.

Once it was her beach.
Every Sunday, she and Bill
dragged old bags of meat,
pulled the worms, long as snakes
from the sand
as the tide sucked out.

Fishermen bought them for a dollar.
But the government put a tax on worms
and Bill died.

Kites are prettier than worms
and no smell of rancid meat
in the beat-up station-wagon,
just strings and plastic and colour.
Red, orange, blue, green, yellow
fill the beach with weekend rainbows.

If only she could fly.

From Kite Lady: Friendly Street New Poets 8