Borders of Sleep

I have come to the borders of sleep,

Yet my eyes will not close.

I am wondering why.

Was it what I ate tonight?

I’m wondering.

Or the wine that I drank;

Or perhaps the heat of the day

Which has continued till now.

I’m wondering. Why?

Is it the warmth of the body

Now slumbering next to my own?

Or the beams of bright light

Filtering through to my face

From the round golden Moon

Which I’ve watched half the night

As the eclipse passed mysteriously by.

I’m wondering why.

Or maybe, just maybe,

twas the movie we watched:

a classic whodunit, but gory and bloody

and full of strange spirits.

We both were excited, but scared just the same.

I’m still not asleep and I’ve counted more sheep;

Done deep respirations and tried to relax

But still I’m not sleeping

And wondering why.

We put out the light and turned off the cat

So why am I bothering any more about that?

And now it is raining, a little at first,

And now there is more and the wind’s getting up

And keeping me wakeful

The more I ignore it.

We’re away in the morning - a holiday trip;

Our bags ready-packed, await in the hall,

But now I’m remembering, now wide awake,

I should take a towel and my swimmers forgotten.

Need some more money; there’s never enough.

Won’t worry right now cos I’m trying to sleep.

Will the taxi come early? Or late?

We’ll need to have breakfast

And time to wash up.

The sheets are all ruffled,

The doonah too heavy,

It’s no wonder I’m restless

Yet bordering on sleep.

BUT I CAN’T !

I can’t . . . I can’t . . .

The clock . . . says . . . three . . .

Three . . . I forgot . . . forget . . .

For . . . ever . . . and . . . ever . . .

Aa . . .m . . .en . . .

Colin

Waste, ain't it!

“Mum, Mum, wait till you see this!”
The girl was hard to see in the darkness: a vague silhouette, slithering over
piles of rotting rubbish, fruit, vegetables and other unsold and out-of-date
foodstuff. Behind the shopping centre a yard was enclosed by a brick wall,
high, but not high enough to stop determined scavengers bunking up and over
to look for anything which might fill an empty belly.
Lily was always hungry. There never seemed to be enough money for food.
What did Mum do with it, she wondered. Smokes? Drink? Pokies? She could
not be sure but they both did this nightly round of the grocery chuck outs.
Her hands slipped over more rotten fruit: bananas oozing from split skins;
apples, some still firm, most slimy and not worth a second touch, oranges
covered in films of mould; mushy plums, apricots, grapes getting pongy,
squashed tomatoes: a jumble of stale bread rolls, cream buns, tacky glazed
icing, crumpets, doughy muffins, smashed cream cakes. Lily’s fingers dipped
in and out of her mouth: the taste was good but it was too dark to see what
she was eating.
A rat scurried away.
Her hand fingered inside a fibre carton: packets of something unopened,
several of them. She pulled one out in front of her face. “Hey Mum, come
over,” a loud but muffled whisper, “wait till you see what I got.”
Her mother, a formless shadow slid around the jumbled garbage. “What is it
then? What yer got?”
“Doughnuts, packets of ’em. They’re in boxes like this. I seen ’em in the shop.
Cor. I love doughnuts.”
“OK, put ’em in the bag. We’d better be orf ’fore security comes round.”
“I got a few rolls as well.”
“OK, that’ll do us dinner. Come on.”
“Mum, how come all this food don’t get sold in the shops?”
“Dunno luv. Waste, ain’t it.
ColinW

Ode to my apple

Is this an apple which I see before me?
Come, let me behold thee.
’Tis shapen like an apple red
yet hath these shining russet yellow streaks all round.
’Tis small, yet light upon my hand,
with tiny broken stalk upon its upward face.
’Tis like a cherry – larger – yet not so sweet;
with juice, ’tis crisp and crunchy to the bite,
a taste like fallen honey drops,
sharp to my teeth, sweet to my tongue,
rapture to my nose, with flavour rich and joyful;
and cheerful sound unto my ears.
This gentle longing to have thee whole,
at once, as favourite love-bites on my lips.
Oh, wondrous fruit, how blest thou art.
Thy skin, though firm doth still resist my ardent bite
yet longeth to be with me – as any lover might –
to satisfy my hungry need.
I love thee still,
thy inner flesh so firm, so white,
so pure within and true.
I love thee, all of thee.
Resist me not, my love is sure
And will be till I’ve eaten all of you!
Colin

Waste, ain't it!

"Mum, Mum, wait till you see this!"

The girl was hard to see in the darkness: a vague silhouette, slithering over piles of rotting rubbish, fruit, vegetables and other unsold and out-of-date foodstuff. Behind the shopping centre a yard was enclosed by a brick wall, high, but not high enough to stop determined scavengers bunking up and over to look for anything which might fill an empty belly.

Lily was always hungry. There never seemed to be enough money for food. What did Mum do with it, she wondered. Smokes? Drink? Pokies? She could not be sure but they both did this nightly round of the grocery chuck-outs.

Her hands slipped over more rotten fruit: bananas oozing from split skins; apples, some still firm, most slimy and not worth a second touch, oranges covered in films of mould; mushy plums, apricots, grapes getting pongy, squashed tomatoes: a jumble of stale bread rolls, cream buns, tacky glazed icing, crumpets, doughy muffins, smashed cream cakes. Lily's fingers dipped in and out of her mouth: the taste was good but it was too dark to see what she was eating.

A rat scurried away.

Her hand fingered inside a fibre carton: packets of something unopened, several of them. She pulled one out in front of her face. "Hey Mum, come over," a loud but muffled whisper, "wait till you see what I got."

Her mother, a formless shadow slid around the jumbled garbage. "What is it then? What yer got?"

"Doughnuts, packets of 'em. They're in boxes like this. I seen 'em in the shop. Cor. I love doughnuts."

"OK, put 'em in the bag. We'd better be orf 'fore security comes round."

"I got a few rolls as well."

"OK, that'll do us dinner. Come on."

"Mum, how come all this food don't get sold in the shops?"

"Dunno luv. Waste, ain't it.

Nativity

This child sleeping in the night

The scene is set, the stage is lit, the actors ready; the baby boy is real, quiet and still. The music plays, the angels sing, the cameras roll.

Do you see what I see?

Mary tries really hard not to drop her new baby. But he's getting heavy and he's quite big. Standing next to her, Joseph puts a strong arm around her shoulder. They smile at the little one. But Mary's arms are aching; she tightens her grip around him but she's not tried to cuddle a baby before. She's only twelve. Maybe she's not holding him quite right. Perhaps, if she'd been sitting down instead of standing . . .

The angels are still singing. How long will it be? She can't hold him much longer. It's no good. She leans forward and drops him down - hard - in the cradle. She bends her face close. Will he be all right? He's not crying. No, he's fine.

Enter wise and noble strangers from the East. They kneel with their gifts.

Do you know what I know? A child shivers in the cold.
Let us bring him silver and gold.

The angelic choir in beautiful harmony :

a song, a song high above the tree, with a voice as big as the sea.

The baby's asleep, at least he's not stirring, does not seem fazed by the bright lights and the cameras.

He will bring us goodness and light.

Shepherds kneeling, attentive, absorbed in the mystery.

Do you see what I see? Way up in the sky, little lamb. A star, dancing in the night with a tail as big as a kite.

A triumphal conclusion, the music swells:

Said the king to the people everywhere
Listen to what I say
Pray for peace people everywhere
The child, the child
Sleeping in the night
He will bring us goodness and light.

Nov 2012

Rosie

She was a remarkable character: odd in lots of ways. We met her on holiday, not just casually; no, she spent two weeks with us as we travelled by bus to central Australia. Every day we said, "Hallo Rosie. How are you today?" Every evening we had dinner together at our motel.

Rosie told us she'd been sterilised when she was 24; surprisingly young we thought. She'd also had a brain operation and had had to learn to speak again. Had this influenced the person she'd become?

Rosie was a good name. She always wore something that colour, even her sunglasses were a shade of pink. We knew from our lunch together on the first day that she was not quite normal. She talked non-stop about all the trips she'd done all over the world. It seemed as if she must always be away from home. And then she told us that her husband liked her to travel. It didn't take long for us to understand why! Halfway through the meal she excused herself and went to the ladies' room. When she returned she explained that some of her lunch had got trapped in her teeth and since they were false she needed to take them out! We wondered why she needed to tell us this so early on our journey together.

As the days passed we came to realise what a strange adult Rosie was. As a mature woman in her 60s she behaved like a child. She always had to be first off the bus even if she was sitting at the back and since coach tours operate rotational seats she was seldom at the front. She was halfway down the aisle before the bus stopped. Like a child she loved ice creams, frequently stopping to buy one; her favourite words seemed to be "Oh, lovely".

She was a passionate photographer, well taking lots of pictures anyway. When we stopped at a scenic spot Rosie's camera went into overdrive. Not only did she take pictures at ten metre intervals as we walked, she bailed us up demanding that we take her picture against the backdrop. As the trip progressed everyone did their best to avoid being near her.

At dinner one evening Rosie arrived last. She decided not to sit at the only place left. She demanded that our driver, Ron, move. He was gracious enough to do so.

Rosie had agreed to share a room with another passenger. Of course, they'd never met before. The much older woman told us how eccentric Rosie was: she wore a wig which she carefully removed; she then stripped off and walked around in the nude and later slept that way.

My lasting memory of Rosie is of the visit we made to the grave of Albert Namatjira. For most of us a respectful moment was required. Not for Rosie: she wanted not one but two photos of the headstone and then requested that someone take a picture of her standing beside it.

Rosie was strange, but she was memorable.

July 2011