Shorthand

Jane Frank

Streets are 
sounds in the mouth. 
Shorthand for the walks we took, 
the feelings at intersections 
with history
that are interchangeable 
with names, 
days. Heartbreaks. A life-
clock beating faster as a red 
light from another world flickers on a
screen. Bad news or good. 
Exhilaration or loss. 
A dog escaped from a lead.
A dead phone line.
A bunch of daisies tied with a scarf.
Perspective ends 
at an orange and pink sky
resting pines and gables in a whoop.
Bonney. Highclere. View. 
Mount Coot-tha the low flat penumbra 
of a sky on fire. Bellevue. Lisson. 
Skirting the issue. Adamson. 
Too obvious. Armagh. 
A confidence to keep. Railway Parade. 
A glass half full. Jolly. Turn into Adelaide
and it’s more serious. 
Avoid the mainstream and exhale. Burrell. 
The flowers in the gardens 
we walk past are words too—
scientific or commonly used. 
Both often. Testing myself 
with botanical symbolism: memory
of other gardens forty years ago. 
Other voices. Cadences. 
People wandering the roads
in my head.  

The steadfastness of trees has been even more vital to me than usual during uncertain times. Photographing favourite pockets of inner city trees (and cloud formations, for that matter) that I’ve encountered on daily walks is a kind of stress-reducing ecotherapy but also a way of connecting with the past.





Jane Frank’s latest chapbook is Wide River (Calanthe Press, 2020). Her work has most recently appeared in Westerly, Not Very Quiet, Shearsman, Live Encounters, The Ekphrastic Review and Meridian. She was a feature poet at StAnza International Poetry Festival in March 2021. Originally from Maryborough in the Fraser Coast, she now lives in Brisbane where she teaches creative writing at Griffith University.

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