This poem is based on the events of New Year’s Day 2006 – one of the hottest Sydney days on record!
A champagne hangover is no way to start the new year, not when the mercury reaches forty-four and we are draped like candle wax over the arms of leather lounges, trying to suck the cool out of anything shiny.
My tangerine sherbet cotton dress has darkened in a delta right down my back and clings to my thighs as I rinse cherries, slice the shocked cheeks off mangoes, criss-cross them and turn them inside out. My brain feels like this.
I hand over the keys of my Fiat Bambino to the Byrnes, who can’t resist driving to Bondi Beach. It seemed like a good idea the night before, as we all crammed in after the fireworks. Sure this is a grand yoke, Niall had called from the back,
plastic glass in one hand, his youngest daughter bundled in the boot like a hostage. Today they are not so sure. The car’s flimsy fan is not helping. Eileen, hot-dogged between two daughters, declares that Veuve really is over-rated.
We pick like gluttons at the fruit platter, query why cherries are not cherry-flavoured. My makeup slides on a film of sweat. This was the summer before we installed the air-con; we wouldn’t need it again for seven years.
The Byrnes are back, panting, shoulders rashered; no one is gallivanting today. Eileen fills a bowl with iced water and we take turns cooling our feet. Outside cicadas scream. Niall plays a chord on the guitar. Is it too early for mojitos, lads?
(First published in The Tangerine, Issue 6)