Walking Through Walls

(replacement house after fire)

This new house is a skeleton on another skeleton. 
It’s as if the old house still exists in this space.
I walk through its walls.
I stand in the bedroom beside the old bed. 
If I close my eyes I can look out of the old window 
at the vibrant plum tree and into the eyes of cattle 
that have since become meat. 

It’s odd. 
The memories dissolve into reality:
the cool concrete underfoot
the quietness of double glazing and fine joinery. 
The wind flutes across the chimney
louder and longer than the old one. 
It’s a sad sound, like mourning. 
Well, of course there is mourning. 
That prior life is just below the surface of now, 
all the lost things, the sunlight 
on the bathroom wall, for example. 

But, lets face it, 
it was trouble, that old building, 
with its moving joints and broken things.
This new one is attaining soul 
slowly but surely. 
One makes a home by sleeping there.
And the presence of the old building, 
its warmth, and the love in its crevasses, 
are still there, just out of sight 
and sometimes, I walk through its walls.

Afternoon light, bathroom, old house
Petals on floor, new house
Morning light, old house
Erma and my shadow, morning light, new house

Fire in The Adelaide Hills, January, 2015

The northerly was thick
with ash and smoke.
Cinders fell on tinder bush.
Our rickety house stood
as if waiting, as if cowering,
amongst trees that evolved to burn,
that thrashed in erratic gusts of heat.
We fled, carrying papers and mementoes,
medicines and photos, survival and love.

Came back next day to an untouched home
and took up rakes as water bombers flew
their endless rounds and teams of men and women
continued their brave fight, went in yellow,
came back black, sooty, and tired,
to rest and eat before moving in again.

Everyone watched the weather maps:
possible rain preceded by high winds
and dry lightning, lightning that poured
like rivers to the ground, raised
tendrils of smoke, sirens and fear.

Then rain, meaningful rain,
the scent of wet dirt and ash,
and our hearts settled
like moisture does
down the roots of trees
to the deep, still, and quiet earth. .

from when the grandkids were here a couple of days before
from when the grandkids were here a couple of days before

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

(And if you want to know how it looked that first day, here is photo of our main street taken by Sarah Hughes. We live between where Sarah took this and the source of that smoke.)

10153641_10205797686366461_7427989971123679186_n

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

Sunday June 7th, 2015. I was ‘fixing’ my blog today and I accidentally deleted the following post from the time.

a yellowed note
in my mother’s hand
evacuation bag
People always ask, ‘What did you pack when you evacuated.’
The important things are always about those you love:
mementoes, photos, addresses and so on.

The Royal Flying Doctor Service

A crackle of static from the transceiver and, somehow, old Vern at the base station always knew whose crackle it was, would transmit a telegram or receive one, reading it back to make sure he had it right, sometimes quite private stuff.

monsoon rain
falling straight down
mating cane toads

family card games
at the round table
100% humidity

Eight in the mornings was the weather. People would call in with their rainfall and we would know what to expect at our end of the river.

Once a day I sat at the desk and pushed the little button for School of the Air: a chaos of static and small voices, as eager as puppies, a teacher miles away asking and answering questions, speaking to one child at a time because if two people spoke at once all you heard was garble.

bare feet swing
under a vinyl chair
distance education

Some times emergencies would interrupt School of the Air. Conversations with the Flying Doctor that, of course, everyone would listen to. If needed, an ambulance plane would land on your local road or your bush airstrip if it was safe.

a dust trail
the aircraft
dips its wings

Jimmy Jackson went that way. We heard his mother explain,
‘Timmy’s cut Jimmy’s finger orf.’
With an axe apparently. THe doctor told her to wash the finger in milk, if it was dirty, 
and to put it back on Jimmy’s hand.
‘Will powdered milk do?’ she asked.
I don’t know what happened to Timmy, but Jimmy lost his finger.

And when I was grown and far away, I sent this: BABY GIRL HANA BORN MIDDAY SIX THREE STOP ALL WELL STOP my message across all those lonely miles, travelling on air, down the receiver aerial and out of a transceiver with its little glowing lights.
‘Received that Vern, over,’ said my mother.

red dust dusk
a country woman waits
to share good news

.

Afterword: This is from my childhood in outback North Queensland.

http://royalflyingdoctorservice.wordpress.com here is the RFDS’s blog. This one further west than we were, but you’ll get the idea. Ours was based in Charters Towers. They run a fantastic service.

Little Green Man

deep concentration
he pokes out his tongue
a little

I wrote this a little while ago about my husband. But here is his younger son at the kitchen table.

lettuce-man-in-progress2

Years ago, when he was working with us, he would make things during lunch break. Mostly he made them out of milk coffee cartons in those days, but really anything at hand: bits of paper, advertising brochures, match boxes. They were often accompanied with elaborate stories and would have me in hysterics of laughter. Then they would go in the bin. I haven’t a single one of them amongst my kid’s memorabilia. Not even a photograph. Log Man is the closest I have. Mik was about nine.

log-man

So I got out my camera quick smart when he started playing with lettuce. May I present: Lettuce Man

lettuce-man2