Cassandra Atherton is an award-winning prose poet and international expert on prose poetry. She was a Visiting Scholar in English at Harvard University, a Visiting Fellow at Sophia University, Japan, and is currently Professor of Writing and Literature at Deakin University. Cassandra co-authored Prose Poetry: An Introduction and co-edited the Anthology of Australian Prose Poetry, her most recent book of prose poetry is Leftovers. She is a commissioning editor for Westerly magazine and associate editor at MadHat Press (USA).

I squeeze all the avocados in the supermarket. Some get a quick pinch at the top; others I pick up and, as they sit in my palm, I sink five fingers into their rounded bottoms. Most are hard but occasionally one is mushy and the dry skin stretches under my enthusiastic thumb. I prefer Haas with its knobbly purple-black skin but I’ll take a glossy green Shephard if it’s ripe. When I come to the end of the display, I start the process again, weighing one that’s too hard against one that’s too soft. When my husband asks if I’ve finished feeling-up the avocados, I take the soft one to the self-checkout, placing it on top of my groceries, making sure nothing bruises its flesh. On the drive home, I imagine cutting its stone belly open, using the knife’s blade to remove the shiny pit. I’ve decided to peel it before putting a coddled egg in its womb. I’ll encourage the two halves back together, roll it in breadcrumbs and deep-fry it. The silky orange yolk will flood my plate when I cut it open—dark green, warm flesh covered in eggy bread. I unpack the car, wondering if I should add hot sauce or cracked pepper. As I take the shopping bag out of the car, the avocado is nestled on the punnet of raspberries and, as I open the front door, it rolls across the top of the bag, landing on the concrete step. It’s completely flattened on one side. I pick it up and the skin bounces back, but there’s a hollow underneath. I go inside to make scrambled eggs and smashed avocado on toast.


In an airbus’s aisle seat I slowly get drunk on whisky, contemplating the last of things. I’m not haunted by ex-lovers, but I remember the first time you bent me backwards over the bed and enfolded my body in yours. In corner rooms of four-star hotels, we watched the moon cycle through all its phases as points of starlight combed my hair and brushed your chest. You say we can’t always live in this state of flux—as if I can turn off the heat as quickly as a Joni Mitchell song vanishes in an airport lounge. But I understand endings. I might be 650 light years away, riding the back of the Helix Nebula, but you are standing in the ultraviolet of its dying glow.


Silvery timbre, the vibrations resonate along the curve of her ear and flutter down her neck.  Lips pressed to the embouchure, he serenades the quiet.  He watches her react to the long flow of air and standing wave patterns. But the tambourine remains silent in her hand. Staring beyond the moment, she is imagining her hollowed spine resting horizontally in his hands.