Tuesday Poem: ‘Floorboards’ by Janice Marriott


It was like that long-ago moment when, after school,
A girl lay on her bed, legs in the air,
Peeling off black Lisle stockings to reveal naked legs,
Pale, hard, strong and so touchable and fair.

I was sanding black lacquer off kauri floorboards
Indecently forcing them into revealing sunlight.
From the 1880’s to the 21st century
Dull dark floors so shockingly white.

They could, they would, learn to be admired.
I rubbed in the oil, regular as tides,
Weeks, months, a year until, satisfied,
I saw the curl of blond hair, the glow of fire.

Some twinkled, a shallow sea covering tiny dunes.
Some full of worm grooves, channeled the oil
And formed dark Braille-like runes.

Gracefully they now accept new wounds; high-heels,
35-year-old Dinky toys, fire engine wheels,
Permanent markers too late banished to the gardening box.

I agree with them when I hear them speak
On my way to bed when it’s just them and me.
They sag and sigh and sometimes squeak.
I tread softly for they are my dreams.


janice_workJanice Marriott is a writer for adults and children. Her children’s books are many and include the critically acclaimed Thor’s Tale (2007 winner of the Junior Fiction category of the New Zealand Post Book Awards for Children and Young Adults). Her latest book is Common Lives, co-authored in the same tradition as Common Grounds and Common Table which she co-wrote with Virginia Pawsey.

Janice Marriott will be at Poppies’ Open Book Club in Kerikeri tomorrow (if you happen to be in Northland) — Wednesday, 7 May, 5:30pm. 

Janice’s website is here, and her poetry site is here. I came across ‘Floorboards’ and other beautiful words last week.

Marriott describes her collection of poems thus:

These poems are the result of a changed lifestyle. After having previously published autobiographical life style books, Common Table, Common Ground, Common Lives, novels, and children’s books, I became a grandmother. I moved to Auckland to help look after the baby, leaving a job as an audio producer. Now life is a discontinuous narrative. Time to write is unpredictable and starts with a clearing of clutter off the dining room table. So this is a year of writing short poems. At the end of the year I will see what has eventuated; the blog is an experiment. I hope you enjoy the poems. I think of them as small animals I have captured for a few moments in my hand.


Check out the variety of poems this week at the Tuesday Poem hub, where you can view poems by a collective of 30 poets from around the world.

Tuesday Poem For more Tuesday Poems, go here.

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4 Responses to Tuesday Poem: ‘Floorboards’ by Janice Marriott

  1. raeroadley says:

    Janice, Lovely poem and best wishes with your redesigned life. I adored ‘Common Ground’ – and learned much from it as I wrote my memoir about rural life.

  2. There is definitely something special about old marked wood isn’t there and Janice you have captured it beautifully in your poem. Good luck on your new journey. Thanks for posting this Michelle. 🙂

  3. Yes, Helen — there’s a lot of beauty in this poem. Thanks for reading.

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