My husband in the dream was clearly Andrew, yet when I was trying to wake him, the name I kept calling was 'Bill' (my previous husband).
When I woke up, I cried because I was alone, no Andrew to comfort me.
Andrew and Bill are both dead. Either one of them would have hugged and comforted me in those circumstances, while alive.
The chin has become truncated, the cheeks hollow,
the small, staring eyes old.
It has changed overnight, the very shape
altered by deep new grooves
running down from the corners of the mouth.
'You're doing so well!' friends tell me.
Here is the sudden evidence otherwise,
private sorrow gouging visible tracks.
Already I don't look like me any more:
the me that he would recognise and remember.
This thought starts new tears.
I remind myself he will know me by my essence,
my energy. The strange little face — alien, unknown —
gazes back at me out of the mirror, blankly.
The blue of the mountains deepens
in late afternoon light.
The space between them and me
is filled with trees and sky.
The breeze arrives lazily, greets us
and wanders away.
like flowering trees,
like trees full of flowers —
these trees we drive past,
the silver undersides of their leaves
flickering and turning in the breeze
as we quickly drive past —
looking like white flowers,
trees full of flowers
After the hot day, thunder
soft in the distance
and a cool breeze.
The cats are still by the fan
spreading their limbs
and their long backs.
(Yes, there are two for day 9.)
My god-daughter Susie's first child
waited long in his mother's womb
or so it seemed to her, impatient to meet
face to face. His first pictures show him
robust, complete, rosy-cheeked
and utterly relaxed in his brand-new world.
This Old Book
This old book with the blue, elaborate cover
ornamented in gold leaf and a painted inset
is called The Language of Flowers. It tells
of secret messages that might be conveyed
by particular blooms, each illustrated
by water colours on card, under smooth tissue.
But what it conveys to me is the remembrance
of my grandmother's face, who loved me
and gave me this book when I was a little girl.
Living in the Matrix
The shopping centre roars. Instead of tuning it out, I open my ears. It's closing time. The noise is made of individual sounds conglomerating — many loud voices, the clatter and clang of doors and bolts, the wind-rush of all the machinery that keeps this place functioning. That machinery wind-rush — also made up of different individual kinds of noise — is in the ceilings, the walls, and under the floors; it surrounds us
Random New Year Observations
The summer weeds rise up
profusely green on high stems.
The vine writhes, and intertwines
with its own long branches down the fence.
The squat pots for approved flowers
stand empty, their contents dead
long before the rain revived
the sleeping seeds of weeds
to green my garden beds.
Languid Eleven drawls to enumerate
her list of expensive Christmas presents,
forgetting to thank her grandmother
for a thoughtful but more modest gift.
I can almost discern the grandmother's hand
twitch (like mine) with a spanking itch.
Oh, Lovely Rain
Oh, lovely rain
too briefly —
now in aftermath
it drizzles down the pipe
clang and slosh
then begins again
falling more gently
with the rattl
of drips in the pipe
while muffled thunder
booms in the background
from the west
from the mountains
and I open my door
wide to the cool.
Seeing What Is Here
The person who lives here must be
in love with clowns — there are so many
sitting on the shelves, usually in pairs.
The walls are full of pictures,
all different kinds, with clashing colours —
pink and red, blue and green together.
One person lives here, with all these chairs.
How many visitors are constantly expected?
Or does she change position on a whim?
On the windowsill a bunch of geraniums
is stuffed into a little brown vase
leaves and flowers crowded yet jaunty.
The light in the room is warm and golden
from the unshaded mercury lamps
all burning brightly, somehow expectant.
I guess I'm just not a Thorn Birds person. All those decades ago when it was first published and became a best-seller, I dipped into it and very quickly decided it was boringly bad writing. I didn't bother going any further
Just recently a friend asked why it wasn't on Australia's list of top ten books (recently decided by poll) and enthused about its romanticism and drama. I wondered if I should reconsider; maybe I'd missed something. Then I saw it in the DVD shop and thought maybe I'd like it better on screen.
It was the old series with Richard Chamberlain and a number of other renowned actors, in a three-disc version. I watched the interminable Part 1 on the first disc. I'm not sure why I lasted so long. Even good actors couldn't redeem that material from being the most ridiculous melodrama, though Lord knows they tried. It wasn't their fault; it was the way the characters were written. I can't bear the thought of persevering through the other two discs, not even to find out the rest of the story. I can't care about those unconvincing characters. Yes, I know both book and series were incredibly popular. I guess I'm just not a Thorn Birds person.
Th MIndful Writing Challenge begins today! There's still time for you to join in the fun.
Pay more attention and fall in love with the world.
1. Notice something properly every day during January.
2. Write it down.
Here's my first:
The Quiet Street
It's the evening of New Year's Day — an overcast day, all day, though seasonably warm. The street is quiet, no sign of human activity. An unseen bird gives an insistent chirp. Then I realise it is two birds answering each other. I watch as they fly briefly into view from out of the treetops, to disappear over my neighbour's fence and away. I leave my doors wide open, letting in the cooling air.
Bit by bit this place becomes right for my needs. I could have sat here on the old chair if Andrew was still alive, but I probably would have wondered if I was preventing him from doing so. Or he would have been watching TV just inside the door, and I wouldn't have had this peace. I certainly would not have had this more comfortable chair, nor this iPad!
Hebe has put me in a bower of green and purple, the colours of feminism — in gentle tonings, leavened with white and accented with wood. There are plain, thin frames of dark wood around the windows and the built-in wardrobe. The bedside tables and the small semi-circular shelf in the corner are of blonder wood. The ceiling, the ceiling fan, and the wardrobe doors are white. So is the background material of doona cover and curtain. But the predominant hues are the soft green walls; the green leafy pot plants, their leaves ranging from dark to almost transparent; the pretty purple flowers on curtain and doona; the blown-up colour photo on the wall, of a spreading bush of mauve bougainevillea. The whole effect is of light and softness. I feel sheltered and expanded at once. I begin to imagine I can smell lavender.
This bed I have never shared with Andrew. Nor this bedroom. It is a place where I can just be me without the memories, just for a few days. I would not want it to be like that all the time — I would not wish to be cut off from the memories — but it's good to have a short space in which they do not HAVE to be there. In my bed at home they are unavoidably ever-present. It's good to get away these few days. I do remember things while I'm here, too, of course, but only as they arise; they are not inevitable. Here I am predominantly myself, not first and foremost Andrew's widow. I am the self I have always been, underneath all the vagaries and vicissitudes of life. I like the experience. It's like a renewal. And I like this me.
from 'Stones for the River'.
2. Applause (as performance poet).
3. The respect of my peers.
4. People remembering particular poems for years.
5. Respecting myself / my work.
6. Publication by reputable publishers/editors.
... In that order. All of which I have experienced. But it's poetry, so not all that much money. Just as well it's bottom of the list.
To the writers amongst my readers, I'm curious now. What is it for you?
When I did the 'Writing and Spiritual Development' course a little while back, I enjoyed sitting out on the back veranda, overlooked by my neighbours' trees, and writing in my journal. That was a notebook and pen job, but now I like to journal on my iPad, and although I could do that on my lap, I prefer to sit at a table. So I dragged out the old card table I used to use in my market stall, and took the little, straight outdoor chair from the front step (the spot for sitting in the sun — but not during the hot summer now beginning).
I've set up right next to the utility corner where I store clothes horse, floor mop and gardening tools — the only space available — but I have angled things so I look at the trees. I sat there late this afternoon, set up my iPad and wrote a poem that had been hovering all day. It was nice.
I would like to find another chair for the front veranda, but there's no rush. I'll start quietly looking.