The fountain in Princess Square
still stands spouting water over and around
absurdly beautiful classical figures
women with voluptuous breasts and bellies,
hair immaculately dishevelled
and gowns perfectly déshabillé
around their hips; god-like men
with beards and muscular torsos
sit at ease hands loose on their knees
chatting to their companions. Above them
an awning against the harsh antipodean sun;
here cluster cherubs fat children laughing:
above them again a bronze parasol topped
with a clump of bulrushes. Parisian baroque
chosen with pride by mayor and council embellishes
the city’s water supply.
When we sailed wooden boats in the fountain
(string securely tied to a nail in the prow) we leaned
over the curved edging peering down through the lilies
laughing at goldfish darting below. The sun
always shone the lilies bloomed the fish gleamed.
We towed our boats round and round round and round
but I let go my string my boat floundered and sank
under the spouting water. A wave
of your magic hand procured (as it always did)
an official. Fountain stopped
the gardener clambered in
and sloshing amongst lilies and startled fish
retrieved my boat. We walked home hand in hand.
I don’t recall
us sailing boats in the park again
but the fountain still stands.
(This poem was originally called Untitled 24.) It was first published in the anthology Beached, Poetry & prose from The Society of Women Writers (Tas), published by KISSMEDIA 1995. ISBN 0-646-255908. Fountain sketch © Varia Cartledge.