Not the Time for Making

In this new house of solid sand,
it is not the time for making.
Now is the time for mending,
gathering all the little shards
and gluing them together.
Perhaps the bindings will be gold
(a precious metal,
desirable and malleable)
but more likely everyday glue
or double sided sticky tape.

These thoughts are disparate.
They are messy like the fragments
of a former life, shattered and scattered.
Did you know that when crystals
– amethyst, carnelian, quartz –
go through fire, they shatter?
It’s all so much sand actually, but sharp.
It will take some time for the world
to wear them smooth,
and that’s why
this is not the time for making.

This is the time for mending.

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Strange the things that survived the fires. This shell that our son wore on the Camino Trail, you’ve got to be asking, how? The little paper figure is something I fashioned in a moment of idleness. It decided to perch there with the shell. It reminds me of him because he was always making little sculptures from various bits of rubbish. Usually he would animate them by giving them voices. He was a seriously funny person, that one.

People grief is much worse than possessions grief. But sometimes possessions hold the memories of people we love, so finding this shell was like holding him. It’s all love, in the end.

This knife, in its days of use, was called THE Knife. It was the best knife to use, but in recent years had become too short. When we came back to the house after it burnt, where the kitchen had been, amid the melted glasses and broken crockery, all of the knives were standing to attention in the ash, the knife block had burnt from around them and left them standing there. No handles of course, and completely useless, but we had to bring away THE Knife.

The fan belonged to my mother. It just happened to be in the car when we ran. She never used it, but it’s nice to have something of hers.

And the little blue star is from Ervin. It is a block from a woodblock print, done since the fire, that I snaffled.

The light switch is a light switch.

Crow’s Nest

This house is build on the footprint of one 
that burnt when all this country burnt. 
Oh Crow, we humans were different 
before. We were innocent like animals,
waking each morning to sunshine 
or no sunshine. The only complication 
was the mind playing with its abacus. 

Well, we are still simple, sound of body, 
but with burnt edges, the mind a chaos
of new growth and charred wood. 
But Crow, what we were before, we’re not. 
Is that why you surround this new house 
with your songs of life? Yours is a dark beauty
but your vision of life springing from death 
is as true the magpies’ who melody about love 
in the skeleton trees on the ridge.

. . . . . . .

Another crow poem. There may be more from now on because:

Before the fires Ervin fed magpies. We watched generations grow up, witnessed the shifting power structures when a dominant pair died, were entertained and delighted. One year we even raised a baby. We were magpie people.

Since coming home (and it does now feel like home) no magpies come. Crows have taken the space, they come for the meat morsels, they sit on the railings of the deck and drink from the birdbath. So far, and surprisingly, they have not crapped there.

Magpies fly by with indifference. 

I don’t understand much, but, for the want of better words, it is like the totem of the land has changed. 

We have changed. Perhaps when you traverse the threshold of trauma something essential changes. For some unknown reason it seems apt that crows would be the dark messengers of growth for me at this time.

Post Fire Haiga 2

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By the way, I didn’t rip this growing beauty from the earth. I found it on our driveway and moved it to this piece of bark for the photo. There are a number of different fungi at last. Including these:

They are growing near the mycelium of Pyronema Omphalodes, the fungi that only fruits after fire. Is this the fruit? Anyone know? Please leave a comment.

Some time later

The mother dog licks the puppies’ arses.
They all crowd in together nudging for teats.
Later they will roll and play. They’ll bite each other 
and lick the insides of each other’s mouths. 
They will curl up together to sleep. When they are older they will 
do all that, and more, with completely unrelated dogs. 

I will tell my grandchildren that there was a time 
when complete strangers would shake each other’s hands, 
how friends would hug and greet with a kiss, sometimes on the lips. 
The grandchildren will look at me as if I was mad. 
‘Granny’s off again,’ they’ll think. 

Of course, they also won’t believe me 
when I say we had homes for old people. 
‘What do you mean?’ they’ll say, and I’ll tell them 
how for a few generations it wasn’t unusual 
to live past eighty, and they will look at me as if I am mad. 

They won’t believe that when sports people won a game
they threw themselves on each other in glee. 
I wonder if they’ll understand glee. 

I’ll tell them how people were so careless that 
there were islands of plastic floating in the oceans, 
how we were so wasteful that we bought more food 
than we could eat, that we threw out clothes 
after only wearing them a few times. 
‘Some people had whole rooms with 
nothing else in them but shoes.’ I’ll say.

They won’t believe me, but even while they think I’m mad, 
they’ll say, ‘I’m glad I can hug you, Granny,’ 
and we’ll hug and watch the mother dog lick 
the puppies’ faces after she is finished licking up their shit.

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Thank you

Dear All Who Donated to our GoFundMe Fundraiser, thank you every one. You wouldn’t believe how grateful we are.

There is one last post on it from Louise for you to read before it closes down.

We have felt so nurtured, supported, and loved. At the worst of times the best of people comes out. My prediction is that similar open-hearted goodness will come from this latest world-wide disaster as soon as we realise the tremendous power of our love. We are all in it together and we are taking care of each other just by taking care of our selves and physically distancing.


Love and thank you to you all,
Belinda and Ervin.

A Wall! (etc)

Just to let you know, as well as presenting my performance poem at the opening of Solastalgia at 6.00pm on Saturday the 15 Feb, I have decided to do a couple of daytime sessions too.

On Saturday 7th March at 2.00pm, I’ll present the performance poem, do a reading from my new book (created for this exhibition), present a short artist’s talk, and answer questions.

On Sunday 15 March I’ll do the same again, but probably without the artist’s talk.

Today I make a huge mess with charcoal on a wall in the gallery. At least I hope it will be a mess, a bit of chaos to find some order in. It’d be terrible if it looked good to soon. what would I do then?

Here is my wall. it is very beautiful. when I trialled a bit of charcoal on it, it sang, and my heart began to beat faster. I have only the smallest of inklings about what I will do, a small mud map in my mind. I hope by the end of the week I’ll know! 

My wall. Yum!

Here’s details: https://fabrik.org.au/solastalgia/

Our GoFundMe

chronology of a displacement

View from Lobethal Bakery. Later it burnt to the very edge of the town and was only held back by the vigilance of firefighters. Our place is just a ridge from the flames to the right.

On the morning of Friday 20th the electricity went off. Two fire engines went past. Looked on internet, saw fire very close. Packed the computers, a few coats, his camera kit, some important files, and random sundry items. Drove out with car and van, went back for his walking sticks. We did a sort of stop start journey, realising each time that we were still too close, eventually ending up at my daughter’s place (much to her relief). Watched the CFS maps with our hearts in our mouths.

Drove up home on Saturday 21th, with son and daughter. Were let through the closed roads by police. Hope in the main Street because it looked from there like the trees were green. Drove around the last bend and saw that it was all gone, every building. Walked up the hill, to find odd things still whole. The compost drum and the tiny garden shed, a standing spade, the odd ceramic object. Nothing else except twisted metal and noxious ash.

Driving up tour place

Had to ring my neighbours to tell them they, too, had lost everything. She was in a shopping centre, surrounded by noise, preparing for Christmas, no doubt.

Posted a picture of my keys on Facebook telling people how useless they are and received an absolute avalanche of love and support from dear friends and total strangers. It is incredibly humbling. We feel so nurtured and supported. One of them even set up a Go Fund Me campaign and even total strangers are contributing! So I have no doubt that we will make it.

useless keys

There is a long way to go with this, I know. Sometimes you suddenly remember an odd thing. Today one of them was two rocks our grandkids gave Ervin on his eightieth birthday. They said something like, ‘You’re not an old man, you’re a spring chicken’. Yesterday morning it was my thirty years of journals. Later I found some of them in the rubble. Strange beauty in amongst the carnage.

A pile of ash journals!

At other times, it feels strangely light, like an unburdening and this is really interesting. I’ll post more about that later, I hope.

Who knows how long it will take to rebuild?