Tricia Dearborn is an award-winning Sydney poet and short-story writer whose work has appeared in literary journals and anthologies in Australia, India, the UK, the US and online. Her first collection was Frankenstein’s Bathtub (2001). She was joint winner of the 2008 Poets Union Poetry Prize.




I’m stunned by your dimensions
and your presence—
no less impressive than if a brachiosaurus
stood in the park before me.
As I walk around you, gazing up,
your branches weave patterns
that dissolve and form before my eyes.
There are wrinkles at the bends
of your giant limbs, the tip of you
sixty feet above the ground, your lowest
branches curving gently down
to my chest height.
I breathe on a leaf and wipe the city grime from it
with my palm, startled to discover
its faint scent of milk.

Mapping the Cactus


I used to worry when you wilted,
dipping your spiky head
to the edge of the bowl
until (the laboratory years
stirring within me)
I charted your movements
over months, and saw you
in time-lapse
rise and swing and fall
like tides. Whether you followed
sun or moon
or shifting magnetic pole
I still don’t know
unable to decipher
your slow-motion semaphore.
But clearly you didn’t droop
with thirst—bowed
to a power greater than
my small green watering can.