Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Straight out my window, the moon stares through the thin twiggy branches of my Silver Princess (Eucalyptus Caesia) trees. Like a piece of the sun, it is bright yellow. The sun is resting, having poured energy upon us all day. There are sightings of snakes in Melbourne's suburbs and in our town, supposedly "away from it all". This day in 1920 the communist party was formed in Sydney and this day in 2001 my father died. It was one of those deaths one is thankful for, the pain and inner damage being unsustainable. Recently I sorted (again) through my father's papers. I found a letter from Allan Marshall among the heaps of school exercise books Dad kept. I sorted out my sister's stuff, the exercise books from primary school and the genealogical research, and gave it to her. I kept his expense receipts and records of his teaching salary and what he managed to do with it, for the sheer amazement at the small-scale world they represent.  It was like looking through a microscope. My father's teaching study notes, his lesson plans and sketches, were works of impeccable art. Those were the days of coloured pencil patterns, foolscap paper and folders, exercise books with times tables and universal weights on the back covers. My father was incredibly generous, in letting us cut up magazines, including China Reconstructs and a magazine I've forgotten the name of which featured Australian History. Dad taught me singing and dancing are good, making up poems and stories is good, and the way kookaburras bang snakes on branches until they are dead and edible is really good. So I think of him on this day of heat, the emergence of snakes, and a bright yellow moon which ascends like the bright face of eternity straight ahead.

Monday, October 29, 2012

I am irritated by the dates being a day behind. My American colleagues joke about it being "tomorrow" where I am, but I would like to know if anyone in Australia knows how to make the dates accurate. That funeral service was on Saturday 27 October, and I am writing this blog at 10pm on Monday 29 October.

OK, that's the end of my grump.

About Two Drums
 At midday, my daughter, The Boyfriend and I drove to one of those shopping centres you can get lost in, all to recover the sim card which was stuck in the back of my new Samsung. I am still without mobile phone as I need a new sim card from my internet provider. My daughter paid for the repair work as it was she who separated the micro sim card from its frame in the first place and didn't say so. Me, next day, clueless, pushing it into the pocket and unable to retrieve it, thinking I'm the fruit cake!

While waiting for repairs to be completed, we lunched, having checked three Directory screens for "Food Court". If only we'd known it has a name: The Drum. Who'd think of that? I needn't have worried about sleeping in this morning and missing my daily walk; I'm sure we made up for it just looking for the food court. We also had enough time for me to buy hands-free equipment for when my phone really is operational. I am being dragged into the world of scrolling and zig-zag text and  "attractive plans" ie fixed and low monthly payments for large amounts of phone calls. 

This makes me sound very savvy. However, I didn't feel it 5 seconds after sailing through boom gates at the entrance to the car park without collecting a ticket. In other words, distracted - by what? a thought? a comment from the back seat? - I tailgated the car in front of me! When Daughter and The Bf pointed this out I freaked: how would I get OUT of the place without a ticket? (Never mind, as they succinctly pointed out, that I could have had two brain-dead passengers if the boom gate had fallen faster.) We found a Concierge on Level 1 who calmly directed me to the Auto Pay station, advising me to press the Help button. This apparently placed a call to a young woman (we think) whose mouth was full of socks or chocolates (we guessed). We could not understand a single word but judged by the tone of voice that we were to press the green button and a replacement ticket would emerge. We did and it did. It felt a little strange thanking an alien for the assistance. However, we also realised that even at my age I am in the normal range for human stupidity.

Apart from visiting a fellow-chorister in hospital, we also dropped into Harvey Norman in Sunshine.  My home office printer/fax is informing me "Drum End Soon". I needed some illuminating conversation about the meaning of this cryptic message. All was revealed, including a few facts about the effect of printing 12,000 sheets (black and white) without realising the drum would suffer. A new one will arrive this week. "Is it easy to instal?" I asked in my best Little Old Lady style. "Oh yes," says the nice young man. "Don't worry!" (a pity he couldn't add "your pretty little head about it" so I could smirk at my daughter). But then, he's moving back to Sydney in two days and others will have to deal with my ineptitude, if it shows up.

In four days I'll be able to write poems to prompts. I feel a foreboding that out will come limericks and ridiculous sestinas about electronics, machines, head sets and printers that go silent into that good night. I wish myself luck!!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

This was a very special day. As a community we celebrated the life and early death of a child. I wrote a poem for the parents to read privately later (see below) and the service, conducted by a celebrant and the parents with a huge number of family, friends and young children, was held on their property, which overlooks a serene and precious pocket of rare eucalypt forest. We were asked to bring plants to help create a special garden. There were enough plants to cover the whole enormous property! 

We cried, we laughed, we ate and drank, and caught up with people. Our choir created the completion of the beautiful ceremony (poems, testimonials, quotes ...) by singing Steal Away. Later the child's mother - who is a choir member but had just spent seven months caring for her severely brain-damaged child - said, "It was beautiful the way you just nailed it." In the car on the way home my adult daughter said, "Did anyone else have to resist the temptation to clap after every speech?" Well, I did, and so did our driver. Why is it that funeral services must leave out the applause meant as acknowledgement, acclamation, being with what's said and who's saying it? After all, the ceremony is for the bereaved, and our presence is intended to bear witness with them.

For me, the pleasant and uplifting surprise was the number of people there I've worked with over the years. The kind of work we've shared has created bonds stronger than just liking, agreeing, or having common interests with someone. The love I refer to in my poem was powerfully present at this, the most inspiring completion conversation I've ever had the privilege to participate in.

The Poem:
To three extraordinary

Human Beings:
Natasha, Peter and Dylan

I enter your world, your home.
Love greets me, moves me
through the light.

I see, hear, smell, taste, touch
but Love wraps and lifts me
lets me Be.

I am in Heaven
even before Love opens the door.
I leave your world, your home
knowing Love
will always keep you safe
and let me Be.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Later the same day ... As I am presenting a talk and workshop on writing poetry on 1st December, I've decided to create a Power Point presentation as well as a display of my publications, products and artefacts. I've just been through my 3 volumes of journalistic photo albums of the years I was "Poetic Licence" and created an A-Z plan. It is as random as my life as a poet, as quicksilver as my off-the-cuff poems.

I am surprised when I look through photos and copies of event writings at how much I've continued the madcap life through 18 years of working full time.

I have been a featured guest at a Living Library, created and performed at my own series of poetry readings here in my town, won a local poetry competition with two Zambia-based poems, done guest appearances at children's writing festivals, and written commissioned celebratory poems via email.

In our town, the Blacksmiths Cottage is the nearest thing we have to a museum. In 2008, the committee organised a display of wedding outfits from past epochs. I wrote poems for the visitors. Not quite as flamboyant as I used to be, but still quick with the pen on clipboard and carbon paper!

Why the heck am I starting another blog? I ask myself. Surely one is enough. Well, I got bored with it. All those poems sitting there in splendid isolation. As another Poem A Day challenge looms, I felt like starting afresh.

Besides, my self expression has burst forth in other areas. This blog will be eclectic, not just poetry.

Well, here we go, my first technical failure. The picture was meant to follow the last sentence. Maybe, however, there is some poetic justice in it. The Silver Princess blossoms do burst forth.

When they do, the birds come for nectar snacks: golden honeyeaters, eastern rosellas, crimson rosellas, wattle birds. The immigrants - blackbirds, pigeons and sparrows - don't stick their beaks into the sweet blossoms, but use the tall spindly sparsely-leafed trees as lookout posts. 

At this time in October, the young are being taught how to live. Adult honeyeaters bring their kids into the fernery outside my office and teach them how to dash, balance and snap up flies and other insects. Even more amusing are the sparrows, which pounce upon the tall seed grasses and swing down, snatching at seed as they descend.

All birds are welcome in my specially-wild garden. I watch them as I write. We are all exploring, swooping from one attractive viewpoint to another.