Over the last week, we've been exploring the characters, places and stories that make up our nation through the Australia: Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow series.  Today our series concludes with Kristin Hannaford's wry and beautifully observed take on suburban life, Sardines.



Kristin Hannaford


In the suburbs, fences merge to form
a grid that groups each family into colours
that fall somewhere in the cream to terracotta
spectrum of sand, shell white, cottontail and buttermilk.

They class them according to roof pitch and roller-door,
and the tinted swathes of concrete driveways –
wide and curved (as a tongue) or trapezoidal
and suited for riding plastic trikes.

Another consideration for inclusion is the backyard
entertaining area and choice of barbeque –
six burner stainless steel with roasting function
or traditional compact Weber design.

Under the microscope experts discern
a recurring pattern of beards, tattoos, singlets, and thongs.
They record the fumbled sounds of hands
rummaging for cans of XXXX Bitter.

Glasses of chardonnay twinkle like Christmas lights
as scientists turn up the heat and observe
their subjects retreat inside; quietened
in the white noise symphony of air conditioned hum.

Kristin Hannaford is a Queensland writer and poet. She has had four collections of poetry published, the most recent is Curio (Walleah Press, 2014). Her poems and short fiction are published in a range of Australian and international literary journals such as the Australian Poetry Journal, Antipodes, The Weekend Australian and Award Winning Australian Writing

You can follow our whole Australia: Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow series here.