In hard rubbish week, while the street is lined
with broken couches and abandoned TVs,
someone has shredded a phone book, leaving
white and yellow pages like autumn leaves
all down Grandview Street. Some pages
have drifted into gardens, some
line the pavement or the nature strip.
Some look like a wild animal has gone to town,
some as though an angry child has destroyed
all evidence that the rest of the world exists.
If pieced together, they would make names:
Michael who cleans the pool, and Vince
who’ll re-gas the aircon if you ask.
Wanton destruction, this shredding of leaves.
The names are torn; the refuse remains,
and their lives clamour down the street to be known
while memories too are thrown away,
with all the things that we just outgrew.
But first: there’s the stockings to fill.
Some products may be unavailable in stores,
but this one ships before Christmas.
Rejoice at same-day dispatch;
rejoice that you’ve met your Kris Kringle requirements.
When the presents are bought
and the turkey is basting,
when the family’s sleeping,
A scramble for parking greets us,
then the festive aisles to survive.
These shelves have been stocked with seasonal cheer
since the night when the dead arose.
Now celebration cake replaces
pumpkins to carve, and the shock is swapped
with the joyful trimmings of the time.
Yet what room is there?
I negotiate tight spaces with my pram,
three-point-turning my son between
everyday goods and the specials of the month.
Panettone greets at $6.99;
fruit mince pies line the place between aisles.
At the interstice of normal and festival, I squeeze
to prepare, to be ready, to live.
True – but the wait weighs heavily now.
So many delays, and you can expect
more road blocks through the coming weeks
as rolling closures right across the north-west
make violent signs of little worth.
Light and momentary?
Perhaps; so, at least, we trust,
yet faith not sight must rule the game
if there’s to be more than witches’ hats
and traffic jams to show.
Yet think: soon, one day soon,
when the barriers roll back
and new lanes are revealed – then,
perhaps, we will say it was worth the wait.
Better by far the day when all roads,
all stones, will give way
to say, Make way.
Make eternal the way;
light now is momentary, yet when it dawns
none of our roadblocks will stand.
...the war he brought back with him is never far away in this suburb.
(Steven Carroll, The Gift of Speed)
Do you remember water from the rock?
How you quarried homes in this ancient soil,
when these broad meadows were the stuff of dreams?
Remember when the men came back
from years and years of wandering,
said, This is it, we’ll build it here,
and none of Egypt’s garlicked meat
could appetise their hearts away?
I was young. I don’t recall,
and was not there for much, or all.
But in the now, with homes all here,
the time is right to know again
what wilderness felt like.
What a discrepancy between
the joyful winging of birds
and the fear in men and women…
(Jean Vanier, The Broken Body)
And how one cricket starts
a neighbourhood symphony
in the grass of our roaming
near the concrete of our homing
in these streets and these footpaths
at a Friday-pink dusk
while the street in its silence
has houses and heartbeats
(through one window, hear dishes;
through another, hear Dickhead
be shouted – no reason);
and the moon in gauze sleeping
says, Here’s to a safe night,
watch over us, dusty
from the day, cool from night
watch our wandering, half-hoping,
down these byways and laneways,
all these avenues of grace.
Suburb has its own time.
Nestled just beneath city’s scheduled view, it sits
when city runs. It holds
deep memories and secrets, left
in garages, holds hopes
in council offices. Roadwork
punctuates the day’s first lines.
Promises in orange signs declare:
something soon is happening. Prepare.
You may have left your lunch behind, may have left
the drive too little space to breathe.
Watch out for traffic. Slow the start
in day’s suburban street.
Slow the beat of self-knowledge,
slow the heart to blink awake.