The boat engine creeks signalling an imminent lock. A stillness follows
allowing moments of discreet reflexion. This lull precedes a to-ing
and fro-ing, a rhythm inapt to this boat’s magic allure
when it floats over the expansive Rhine with no lock
in sight, revealing to us all several picture
postcard peaceful scenes. Early this morning
the river managed to keep us well afloat.
Castles emerged atop lush green forests
while rows of houses came into view
like decorated and gilded gems.
Enchanted by this floating
vision, I dream beyond
the end of time and,
breakfast, oh, dear
I've missed it!
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
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 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
would I call it
a parasol or
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
a 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 shoulders
and flipping your hand in the air.
His parents were not surprised
when he first produced a podcast
that became very popular.
Being the youngest child,
he often felt
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
sound making techniques.
He made nonsensical
and blabbering 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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
Those who know me I suspect feel I am nostalgic that I never managed to start my own bookshop.
I’d call it a biblio-bus, but it would not run like council vans that visit people on a regular basis. It wouldn’t drop books to a random telephone booth or letterbox on the streetside.
The project consists of a long-travel journey around Australia. It aims at delivering reading matter and library resources to remote and isolated centres or schools many of whom would be indigenous communities. I would stay several weeks building a profile of what each group chose as a theme of interest. Initially I would offer encyclopaedias or magazines to complement literary texts I had brought with me. If a community had a topic of interest, like starting their own business, I would commit, in writing, to a follow-up visit within a year. I would then source information on their selected theme.
A project outline would be to first consult with centres that a reasonable size four-wheel drive can access. Then I’d recruit a team of younger volunteers as resource persons to be rotated. If I obtained permission I would consult with indigenous reading experts like Dr Anita Heiss and publishers like Magabala Books for guidance and support. Finally I would distribute the books or packages recommended to various charity groups who rather than ask donors for cash requested hard copy resources to donate to those centres.
Although I regret that I haven’t planned this project yet, I believe I was not ready to implement an inclusive strategy in my earlier days. I used to encourage people to read in an abstract capacity. Providing literature for a project is a better model which can benefit from life experience.
The major drawback I suspect is the delay factor. However I think that even the younger people may well wait a few months for thorough resources. They may even pass their passion onto their siblings and form an elder-focused group to develop a plan of action for their project.
Am I nostalgic? I am more of an optimist. I believe now is a good time for me to make this dream come true. From the people’s viewpoint it may be it’s never too late to make things happen.