Nights here are long—
starlight frays the palms,

sky a black sarong
shaken out to dry.

I hear emerald doves
in the calabash.

I see the thousand flowers
of the cannonball tree.

I remember pepper leaf,
the singe of torch ginger—

think of you on the equator
from these cooling tropics.

I miss you—
a line I would never write.

Grief is rembetiko
heard through an open window

as the quandong
fruits at dusk—

wild basilica
distilling its sugars

into flying fox nectar,
rounding its midnight planets

of Marrakesh indigo,
an orrery of blue moons.

New Shoots celebrates and cultivates poems inspired by plants and place to deepen cultural connections with nature. In 2018, Red Room Poetry brought the program to Cairns Botanical Gardens. Here, poet Sarah Holland-Batt led a masterclass, in which she shared new commissioned poems, including 'Blue Quandong', inspired by the gardens.