Thursday, September 29, 2011

the spare room

[inspired by the title of a novel by Helen Garner]

If we had a spare room we’d make good use of it.  We’d throw it open and welcome allsorts to come and stay - objects rather than people.

A drawer full of post-it-notes and not just the yellow ones.  Another bulging with inner tubes in various sizes, to guard against all manner of deflation.  And one for that novel by Emma Donoghue that we have two copies of as where else better?  Nestled next to the little rice cooking ball that looks like a robot planet, that so appealed in the catalogue, shiny with potential just as any robot planet would be, but which we’ve never used.

A small shelf of books - the handful we have truly loved and can’t bear to part with.  Another with framed photos of those people we’ve parted with and can’t bear to love.  A row of jars containing nothing but air, sealed inside on memorable days.  A bundle of envelopes that once held letters in various forms, the typed and the handwritten, the cryptic, coded and downright blunt.  The letters themselves have gone but the envelopes bear witness to our first encounters with bad news in its many guises.

Coppers in a pot just in case we ever find something worth buying for just one or two pence.  A dish full of seeds collected from things grown in our garden – things we didn’t plant, but which grew from previous seeds deposited by passing creatures.  And a pill box brimful of apostrophes - the should have used, overused and those kept handy just in case.      

Sunday, September 04, 2011

gold mining

In January and July this year I paddled in the River of Stones and panned for my own nuggets of daily truth.

I think it's high time I re-polished my nuggets and dangled them here to delight those who prefer truth when it sparkles and burns and buys it's way into all the most (un)desirable places.

Inevitably drawn to pale foods he was the sort of man to heap his plate with potatoes and spend the meal searching for his meat.  To drink two pints of milk straight from a summer doorstep and smile away the morning as they curdled gently within.  To think of his mother whenever he caught himself looking at a woman's breasts - remembering her force feeding him rice pudding, and withholding blancmange when he'd been bad.

Friday, August 12, 2011

I predict a riot

‘… violence is embedded in public spaces whether visible or not, because public spaces are responsive to violence even before the violence has occurred, through the physical design.’
Jen Berean & Pat Foster (PoCA magazine)
The child barely manages to post the empty crisp packet into the bin before his mother drags him onwards. He looks back hoping to catch a glimpse as it starts to crackle and smoke. He scrapes his shoe along the edge of the kerbstone, throwing out an anchor to slow their progress, but all he leaves is a slight red scuff that melts and slowly dribbles toward the gutter. A police car passes and he pictures it upside down, end over end, any way but this – much more fun than flipping triangles in maths class. His mother says he has an overactive imagination although she struggles to keep the syllables in their rightful place.
The mother drags him onwards, just another bag of shopping she can barely afford only without the handles. He bulges, he sags, he makes her arm ache, he threatens to spill his contents across the pavement at any moment. They stop by a shop, the mother staring at the screen of her mobile phone, decoding abbreviated declarations of love from the latest in a long line of abbreviated lovers. The child exhales. His breath a hazy cloud on the shop window. In this he draws – not letters or hearts or faces – but jagged lines that divide and collide to form little pieces of steamed glass. A map of how this window might come apart.