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Coming of Age

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The Receipt

Reading Patti Smith. M Train. In a cafe. Wearing a suit jacket, jeans and a beanie. Channelling, in a semi-ironic way, the image of Patti from the cover. 

Dark light, panelling, window light. I choose the seat by the window, triangulated with glass and plaster, softened by cushions, soft feather, rough fabric behind me. Panelling, channeling, there’s poetry hiding in strange places and emotions to tunnel, tunnelling though the cracks. In armour, in walls, in defences of solitude, behind a hard back book.
Patti reads and roams, into the images, creating new paths, melding the imagined with the real imagined. The voices of departed friends, William Burroughs being the flea, drawing blood, mining for words and meaning. The image of her lost Fred, hovering in shadows, light beams, objects in daily crypts, inside the desk drawer, a guitar pick, an old photo.
I leave the cafe and make my way to the butcher shop, Gruner’s. The only person there this morning is old Mr Gruner, Peter. Give a littl…

Fitzroy Streets make me cry

Fitzroy Streets make me cry. 

Jasmine scents, basil plants, fried coffee grounds on the gas stovetop. Purple love-bites wander downstairs, smeared mascara, bruised thighs. Paperbacks strewn on the dusty carpet, threadbare runners on the stairs. Overflowing gutters and fragile drainpipes, smashed-in cars and broken hearts-these are the days that float back on the warm air.

Cornflowers in a metal vase, Jonathan Richman and Billy Bragg playing from a tinny stereo. John Berger's Ways of Seeing, Karl Marx, Terry Eagleton, Helen Garner's Monkey Grip and Susan Sontag's On Photography. Pasta pots and ashtrays, tumble-down dunnies and creepers hanging low into the lanes. Dark night lights on the cobblestones.

Sunday night sessions at The Standard, with a roast cooking in the oven as the pedal steel wails. Heart strings playing, lurching gut, blushing over the beer order. A deep bass vibrates across the bar.

These Fitzroy street are filled with fever, tears and rage. Ornaments on a side…

The Year my Body Broke

For a person who had paid scant attention to fitness, food intake, fatness or not throughout most of my life, this past year has been confronting. In the year that I turned a ‘significant’ age, I found myself struck down by a black grief, but on top of that, a string of injuries. The loss of my father hit right on my birthday week, while I was away celebrating in New York. On return to real life a few months later, after the blackness slowly lifted, I found myself dealing with a progression of injuries which opened the door onto a life of limited mobility. The horror!
First, there was the leg injury, sustained after my excited attempt at two five kilometre runs. So pleased was I after my first run, that I headed out again the next week, solo, inspired by my newfound love of running. Shelve that idea. The pain in my lower leg became acute, the leg swelled full of fluid, and before I knew it I had a suspected DVT requiring an ultrasound. The injury is still an undiagnosed generalised tend…

Shadow of the Oaks

As soon as I saw it, I wished I hadn't.

There was something deadly ominous about the darkened room. Bare wood floors, panelled wood walls, slices of weak light coming in through the long, autumnal windows. Funereal. I could hardly process it. 

A sign.

The room was empty, the service cancelled, the food and drink all dried up. Finished. 

It was our last day in New York, and we had returned to the Oak Room at The Plaza to toast Dad with a negroni. At this stage, when we knew he was fading, each negroni seemed like a communion. 

The Plaza was one of the places him and mum had honeymooned. The last time we'd been in NYC, with kids in tow, we had blown a couple of hundred dollars on fancy burgers and lemonades for the kids, and champagne and wine with dinner for us. Spending mum and dad's trip gift money. 

That was nearly 5 years earlier. We had taken our girl to look for Eloise, the little literary inhabitant of the Plaza Hotel. The doorman played along, telling us she had only just…

Nature Notes, Days 1-5

Womankind Magazine's Nature Challenge
Day One
Head out into the air this morning on my engaging challenge. My first encounter is with possum piss, its frothy stench hitting me as I walk out our front path. I hose it away, cursing the urban wildlife. The wattle is out, the scent bringing back my dad and making me cry. 
After some lovely meandering down the canal, watching birds and holding my 'in memorium' sprig of wattle for dad, I take my tears down to the salty water of the bay. 

There I walk out on the rocks, go that bit too far, slip on invisible moss, smash various parts of my body and end up almost in the water. Thankful that I haven't busted my head open, I fling my little sprig of wattle towards the water, where it falls short and lies on the rocks like me. Ready to be picked up when the waves come in. 
I reach for my phone, make sure not to drop it, take a photo of the wattle as it waits, as I wait. I have wrenched my shoulder, and I am shaking.
Day Two
I plan to wal…


The rain is sporadic, but the stream peeling off the roof is constant. An insistent pouring onto something plastic, not the comforting spattering of drops. It jars with my yearning for a certain type of rainsong. While the room warms up, I sit in beanie and overcoat, coming to grips with my space.

The blue car in the old shed has not moved. Some days there is washing on the line. The Hills Hoist carousel has three pieces of baby clothing on it today, hanging, sopping, in the rain. One day there was a free-wheeling pink sheet, fresh and joyous. It sang like a flag.
My room is my own. Unadorned. The desk has piles of books, some propped open on pages. Significant letters: S for studio. Topographical maps for placement, location, anchoring in space. 
Turn the page. F for freelance. I have been paid for my writing. I am out there in the world, selling my words. Making a mark as a writer of sorts. Feeling allowed to own this identity, this voice. Inhabiting that place where I feel contentment…