Dear Caroline, I often think of the things we did and said together, remember leaping out at the traffic passing by your home and flashing at the traffic in retaliation for being flashed at ourselves by a random in the park. Snort. Remember calling Radio 10 (!) and requesting stuff using silly accents or totally mispronouncing the band names. Remember you trying to get a discount at Oktoberfest for getting a sausage without the bun. God you were embarrassing. Logical, but embarrassing. And you had that foul almost-neon-orange cardigan that washed the colour entirely from your face – did your mother buy it for you in a misguided effort to match your gorgeous orange hair?
Well, last year I saw a cardigan very similar (though not neon) in a shop and I had to walk in and grab it by the end of the arm and give it a little squeeze – and then I found myself buying the bloody thing.
And I wear it though it zaps all the colour from my face except the broken capillaries on my nose and the dark spots under my chin.
It really is very unattractive.
And yet I cling to it like
I should have clung to you.
Drab little bird of brown and blue
your mate is dressed in a brilliant hue,
so why does he stay so close to you?
‘He honours the power of my song
for when the fearful night is done
I sing the rising of the sun.’
1. And in the September of 2015 I sayeth to my Dave ‘If you thinketh we are going to cart all this adjective adjective junk to the new house where it will sit for years and years you can thinketh again. 2. And Dave thinketh again and we moveth the adjective adjective junk. 3. And I said there will cometh a kerbside pickup and if you haven’t done anything with the adjective adjective junk we will put it out to the kerb. 4. Dave agreed. 5 And it cameth to pass. Indeed the adjective adjective junk has not seen the light of day since it was delivered to the new house. 6. And yea! the kerbside pickup hath been announced for Monday 10 July in the 2017th year of Our Lord. 7. And I will be delivered from rusty bikes, legs without chairs, the heads of fans and dusty boxes of cords and plugs to which we know not what they belongeth. 8. Yea! 9. You bloody ripper! 10. Amen!
– your clothes lying on the bathroom floor
I have not seen you in an age.
I have not felt the warmth of your hand.
your crumpled clothes on the floor
the tv on in the far room
I’m missing the warmth of you
– my foot explores your body’s imprint in our mattress
the glow and hum of the tv
your footsteps passing down the hall
and I wonder how we might reconnect
Beyond your reach!
You might have touched!
Had you but chanced this way!
‘Stead sauntered through the village,
Sauntered so soft away.
A meadowfull of violets
Host bees in morning’s glow,
Not for unknowing fingers
That passed, so long ago.
I wrote this in response to Emily Dickinson’s poem that was (probably posthumously) titled Almost! You can see the original in many places including here
The pressure to perfect this was too intense. I thought about every sound and syllable, read so many of her poems and about her life, and the poem seems to have hardly changed from the original. That’s why no post for a month! But there – it’s done, it’s the best I could do.
The sun is gently rising and I’m sitting on the back step,
watching the paint peel, and
the grass overgrow the side fence, and
Old Limpy hobble after her fat, clucky sisters.
And my hands are warmed by a mug of hot tea.
And all is well in my world.
And all is well in my world.
On Friday I said goodbye to my friends and colleagues at the Queensland University of Technology (QUT). It’s been hard. Not only have I loved my QUT friends and my role as librarian, I have also appreciated a wealth of support, mentoring, and opportunities to grow over the past four-and-a-bit years. QUT was also where I completed my Honours and Masters degrees, and where I first found interesting and rewarding work as a research assistant and research administrator.
The best measure of my transformation? when I arrived at QUT in 2001, I was a single mum on welfare, working part-time cleaning pub kitchens. I had never logged on to a computer. I didn’t know what email was, and took a few days to understand the differences between my username, password and email address. A month later I got my first assignment back – 19.75 of 20 marks. And eighteen months later I was working as a research assistant. I have not seen the ‘wrong’ side of a pub counter since. This transformation didn’t happen because I am a genius. About 95% I attribute to the professional and academic staff who took the time to explain the technology, the assignments, how to research, all the different things I needed to know and do. The remaining 5% I attribute to my desperate desire for a happy future for *my family.
I think my story really illustrates what the QUT culture is all about: creating opportunities for folk who don’t count for much elsewhere, and helping them unearth and realise who they really are. I only hope that as a librarian I have been a successful part of that culture, and that I can take the same philosophy to my new library role…
Goodbye QUT, I am taking a little of you with me ❤
*a big shout out too, to my parents and extended family for their love and support!
feeding steaming horses under bright wattle –
my black feet!
Response to Haiku Horizons prompt: burnt
I have returned from a very local Dawn Service. I love the service – a gathering of neighbours, local schoolkids and their families, the congregation of St Mary’s.
Highlights this year – we sang the New Zealand National anthem! Such a beautiful, musical anthem, we were led by a tall, handsome young Maori from the local badass high school. My partner (who would dress entirely in Aussie flag themed attire if he could), sang along beautifully as well.
A wish for the future – that the ceremony would mention the role of women and families, and the impact of war on the community. There are plenty of soldiers in my family, including an ANZAC and a youngest son who died in Sandakan. Also a member of the Czech resistance and another youngest son – a Ukrainian who perished, location unknown, in WW2. My Grandfathers both suffered from Post Traumatic Shock, one became an alcoholic and caused no end of trouble for my Gran. The other was an overzealous disciplinarian, I remember when he died, trying to make a connection with my Dad but unable to make the necessary amends.
And the mothers! Anna Honcharova who spent her whole life waiting for Pavel to return. Did he die of the cold? Of injuries or illness? Of hunger? Was he one of the severely injured who was too ashamed to return home? Where was he?
And dear Eileen Evangeline Chase Morris McGregor – her darling Robbie died at Sandakan, nearly at the end of WWII. She was such a tough old stick, but would tear up whenever she remembered him, how they sent parcels of food to him via the Red Cross, but that it never reached him.
I wish we could hear more stories and poems from these perspectives on ANZAC Day.