Y for Yoyo
She’s always lived in the small town. It has one set of traffic lights on a highway with little action. For one year, near the lights, she test-spins the yo-yo up then down. During the day as a car nears the road lights, she suddenly loses the rhythm. She has lately, made a change. Sleeping yo-yos moves work best when there are no vehicles. She reels off a song as she plays, in between the frequent gaps occurring in the town’s traffic. She takes a while to rehearse, finally finding a tune to hum in keeping with the yoyo’s moves.
X for Xenophilia
I wave. ‘Hello, Heroes in comedy
guys! I’m back. or drama, baddies
Sorry, I missed perhaps goodies?
the last class, The discussion
I was sick!’ pauses. I say
They greet me. ‘We’ve looked
All in a circle. at films only.
The tutor starts. what about
Pleasant topic. the theatre
Nearest to me The discussion starts.
a student turns – And it involves me.
a look of interest! That’s unusual
‘Excellent point! What’s new? Topic,
Did you ponder tone, team or accent?
a play by chance?’ Could be the latter…
He has actually The foreign accent ?
heard my words! It sometimes is !
W for Water
The boat engine Earlier the wide river
creeks signalling managed to keep us
an imminent lock well afloat. Castles
A stillness follows emerged atop green
allowing for some forests while rows
discreet reflexion of houses appeared
This lull precedes allowing on either banklike
a to-ing and fro-ing the vessel decorated and gilded
-a rhythm inapt to to reveal gems. Enchanted by
a boat’s magic allure a picture this floating vision,
when it floats over postcard I dream past the end
the expansive Rhine peaceful of time and, oh, no,
with no lock in sight, scene. I miss my breakfast.
V for Vision
Arriving atop, I sit down. As I look up I take in a remarkable
dreamlike vision. Nestled against the river bank are three
pretty red roofed and yellow-fronted houses. Further back
there is a forest and on the side some lush green bushes.
Picture perfect. I take in the beauty of it, but soon
decide something ‘s missing. Not light nor extra
colour or features! I think it’s people.
The elements all make a lot of sense
Yet to create atmosphere you need
people. I long for the warmth
of human vision, touch
and talk. These make
U for Umbrella Words
The assistant can hardly see me.
She waves pointing towards the bread
‘Did you want the loaf sliced?’
I nod, becoming aware of people queuing behind me,
and quickly add
‘And can I have two slices of these cakes please?’
‘These are not cakes, they are gateaux’, she says.
I shake my head in assent but I dare not point to the tempting
curly pastry with shiny raisins in it.
She’ll perhaps say that it isn’t a snail
but an escargot.
The next day if I wanted to buy an umbrella,
would I call it a parasol
or a parapluie?
T for Talking
You talk; some hear, some don’t. They have heard the words but not taken them in. There is no response. You shout. They turn around and ask: ‘What do you mean? You know they’ve heard you. You repeat the utterance so they don’t misunderstand. Later you start to talk again, but those people who listen rarely reply you start walking around, flipping hand up in the air as if you had nothing to say, finally there is need for less shouting instead you stammer: ‘Just talking to myself’, shrugging your shoulder and flipping your hand in the air.
S for Sounding off
His parents were not surprised when he first produced a podcast that became very popular. Being the youngest child, he often felt abandoned whenever his siblings left the house without him. He resented being left behind and complained to be pushed aside, as if he was unimportant. Around that time his parents noticed that he had developed some astonishing sound making techniques, he made nonsensical and blabbing noises. He created such racket and clangour that they needed to give him their undivided attention to appease his so-called solitude. His family had discovered early how much he needed to be heard
R for Realism
This occurs when you don’t have anything on your mind. You've stopped worrying about every thing around you. you forget you left the washing out, you don’t bother to put a heater on because you can stay warm under the bed covers. There is no doctor to visit Catch up with a friend for coffee? Can wait for another day. Check the letter box? Nobody writes any more. Some vacuuming? You swept under the table the day before. Lunch? Sit up and watch TV with a sandwich and a fruit. Water? There’s always a bottle at hand on your bedside.
Q for Quarantining some Australians
The shopkeeper signals her over. ’Not my turn!’ she says.
He looks to the side ‘Come on then!’
calling to the Indigenous youth he’d ignored,
who shuffles up holding some sandals.
‘You can’t afford those, he growls, ‘Pick something else’,
returning the man’s card behind the counter.
He turns to her. ‘One sunhat. Any cash with that?’
She shakes her head, enters her pin, staring at the forlorn card on counter.
‘Cashless welfare’ he grins. Looking up, ‘That’s better!’
She turns to see the glum youth, standing, flipflops in hand.
she wonders how to report this power keeper.
P for People
I love hearing people and enjoy watching them but I don’t like to study them. I know gestures, posture or gait can indicate varied personalities. I understand some traits like the eyes, the nose or the mouth might be inherited. Is there a view that our body shape could affect our development as an individual? I don’t know that either. For an insight into my fellow humans I rely only on intuition. No study needed. When we meet I start talking with them. By chance we open on topics common to us. Either we hit it off or we don’t.
You’re trapped. You work from home and no one is checking over your shoulder you’re in charge, running the show Just send your report and you are paid, but so little! Or you choose to take a job in town where you are part of the team with back-to-back meetings while you smile to colleagues till your lips feel sore A well-paid job but you will never get your way. If sharing information is at stake yet you intend to offset the demands and maintain a balance keep your views to yourself Saving your wise opinions for an opportune time.
N for Nightmare
Communication was difficult
due to lack of facilities in a prison.
Prisoners were sometimes refused
pen, paper or envelopes. Communication was difficult
Some of the duty officers could be punitive
or unwilling to act.
In the education centre, tutors often worked around that:
pulled out pages, force- scribbled pens,
Student prisoners sometimes came back with
other times with a letter for which they needed
They said they could buy stamps but the shop had
Last night my dream became
a prison administrator’s nightmare
a gross of envelopes.
Every prisoner who wanted could send letters!
M for Mindfulness
Definitely in the moment. Legs crossed and back straight! I close my eyes and concentrate. Rock music, not the Beatles, Pop Songs. I push that thought aside. A shard of light. Beachside sunsets will defeat all blinds. I breathe in, then out for two extra counts. In with the sea smell, out with rock pulses. Breathing in the musical rhythms, holding and breathing out the warm sunlight. I let go. Vagueness of thoughts and sounds merge in the lull of the van where I sit on a mat, on the edge of a crowded caravan park. I’m ready to party.
L for Language Learning
Language Learning I tried calligraphy With trials at drawing. I didn’t go on stage. I gave up the piano. From Greek I translated Some of Homer’s Iliad. I went around Europe, In and out of England too. I danced to rock and roll But revelled in jazz jams. I met an Englishman. Leaving my little brother behind, we went to Africa. There in a house With no electricity we raised our first-born. To my small baby, wrapped in bright java-print I started talking in French English even in Chilunda. Mwinilunga turned out to be a good place to learn a new language .
K for Knitting
You can knit outfits from yarn without looking you can catch up stitches across rows you can undo what you have just done you can invent your own pattern There are some who yarn while they knit many sing and dance, moving about others put it down with a sigh only to pick it up with dreamy eyes What of those like me whose feet punctuate the rhythm of their hands following the cadence by keeping up to step it is a simple beat. Knit-Purl Step-Up with right foot back to Knit-Purl Step-up with right foot Lilting unto the end.
J for Just right
At long last some cafes have opened. I went for a meal last week and it was table service! Advantage: Pandemic 2020 Yet the pleasure to be attended was short lived. The whole event went flat. Our table was located close to the door with heaps of piled-up chairs on one side. No matter how good the food and how cheery our voices, the mood was soulless and the sounds hollow in the half-empty cafe. Tonight's take home pizza party in my backyard gathered a few friends with all seats occupied and the cheeriest of atmospheres! Advantage: My home 2020
I for Impudence
I can’t tell them. They’ll think I’m rude!
-‘Bring a salad’.
Do I tell them I can make a mean vinaigrette?
-‘Flatten the cardboard boxes’.
Will they object if I compact the boxes tighter by standing on them?
-‘Try it, it’s the new way to cube potatoes!
I dare not say: ‘Just the old technique I used to cut garlic’.
-‘Turn off the tap not to waste water’.
Shall I explain I learnt to conserve water as a child
when I used to draw buckets from a well. I can’t possibly divulge anything.
They will think I am being arrogant.
H for Health
At the start of the pandemic we were all concerned about health. International politics came to the fore of my preoccupations when The British Prime Minister tested positive for Coronavirus. Later he said his survival had been ‘Touch and go. He had praise for two nurses: one from the Atlantic Coast of Portugal and one from New Zealand, supposedly the triumph of the British National Health Services. Britain involved the whole world to save him. There is no logic to Brexit. There is no further way out for him: like his people, he’s a worldwide citizen. Brexin Johnson’s his nickname.
G for Generation
‘Mother Hen’ was one of her nicknames.
Over years she nurtured her children. When a grandmother, she was called a ‘helicopter mum’. It wasn’t just children she fussed around.
At work she embraced the younger folk under her wings! Life turned around.
In her sixties she decided to let go of all her gentleness! No longer would anyone dare patronise her to a seat on the bus.
At the supermarket when the attendant passed her vegies asking, ‘Is that not too heavy?’ she’d say:
‘Hey! I used to carry well over ten kilos of kids, you know. On my hip!’
F for Further
We are off to the beach and contrary to previous experiences, my children start a full-on rebellion on arrival.
‘Why can’t we go any further?’
They resent the distance between us and the other bathers. Whatever they argue, we’re intent on keeping the two metre distance.
‘Come on! We usually go to the next beach if people are on this one!’
I have to remind them: four metre square might mean that all Australians can survive this, so leave enough room for others!
Be sensible and stop the fighting.
Remember: this is Australia
in the days of
E for Expression
Just arrived in Australia, still learning English, Anna joins in with some people to watch a comedy. A clumsy hero enters a café, misses a step, falls on his knees and leans heavily onto a passing waiter’s tea tray to regain his balance.
Pandemonium ensues! The hero’s profuse apologies while he clings to the CEO’s shirt because he splashed it with coffee provoke a mix of shouting, swearing and embarrassment which triggers the universal reaction of hilarity.
Anna laughs but can’t utter a word. Only in her native language can she find the exclamations to convey her sense of enjoyment.
D for Dismissal
The meeting’s about to start. I wave as I greet my colleagues. Smiles all around. Full of energy, we float suggestions. Pamphlets outdoors! Great idea. Bright-eyed, I nod pointing to the verandah ‘I see an enquiry booth just there! We could take turns!’ The closest person turns her back, the others don’t like the idea either. My mood’s deflating. I try a couple more comments. They just don’t hear them, is it my voice? Yet I speak firmly. Is it my tone? Too much energy in it, perhaps? I sigh. I’ll put it in writing, someone might look at it.
C for Childhood
Life as an adult does not really suit me. People appear to believe me. hey even listen to my rants. I say what I think without anyone picking a fight. I can hold mature conversations yet I still yearn for the radiant days of my childhood. How to channel the child in me during a negotiating session? A demonstration of joy might add value, yet what if it was an outburst of tears? Giggling and howling would bring relief from having to act like a 'know-all’ or even a ‘do-gooder'! I reckon sometimes a quick arm wrestle would make sense.
B for Bond
‘Sure! Great, we’ll be in it!’
At long last, we have all agreed.
We’ll start an easy-to-run book club.
Ten members will hold a session
at their house in turn once a month.
I volunteer for the first meeting
to be at my house
on the last Thursday in February.
I’ve picked Helen Garner’s ‘The Spare Room’.
By mid-February, I receive a strange message:
‘Reading Garner. May not get to the end.’
That weekend I check my voicemails :
‘Didn’t read the book. Skipping this month. Sorry.’
Another call comes:
‘I can’t do it, it’s too depressing.’
A fragile bond indeed.
A for Adelaide’s own Diagonal Road
I wasn’t expecting Diagonal Road. I knew she lived in Adelaide somewhere south of the city centre. The address she gave puzzled me. I’d heard of Melbourne and Morphett Street, of Cross Street and of Gawler and Goolwa, but Diagonal was new to me how do people visualise Diagonal Road splitting the city up? When I checked the grid I saw indeed a diagonal thoroughfare across the Southern City yet it still didn’t feel right. Could a draughtsman’s child have left a streak across a page, and that in turn have become the thing that we now call a road?
Y for Yoyo
She’s always lived in the small town. It has one set of traffic lights on a highway with little action. For one year, near the lights, she test-spins the yo-yo up then down. During the day as a car nears the road lights, she suddenly loses the rhythm. She has lately, made a change. Sleeping yo-yos moves work best when there are no vehicles. She reels off a song as she plays, in between the frequent gaps occurring in the town’s traffic. She takes a while to rehearse, finally finding a tune to hum In keeping with the yo-yo's moves.