Nothing says summer like this:
Renaissance minstrel piped through tinny speakers,
musicbox-like, rotating through sleepy street,
a call for ice-cream from a roaming van,
suburban icon, half-sinister, half-sweet.
To us in the south it seems fitting that the tune
should be used too for carols:
“What Child is This?” and another I don’t know,
“Now that the old year is fled”.
Who is the lady Greensleeves? Apocryphal stories clash with tradition;
promiscuity, Henry VIII wooing his distant Anne,
sleeves to reflect the moral state…
Into such as this, the child steps;
if today, would Mr Whippy have heralded Him,
as he lay down in our real estate?
Would summer celebrators have briefly paused
to laud the newborn king?
Now that our year is nearly fled,
we lie to rest but wake instead
to a summer, blazing bright away
and nothing more to fill our stockings.
As the green grass casts us away,
that the child-king might be found amongst us.
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.
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.
For now, where do we live?
These streets are made for walking:
quiet, reflective, built atop a hill where the cityscape
sinks beneath a thoughtful gaze.
No walls to be broken, no walls to repair;
watered gardens greet the roaming eye,
an expectant couple waits
at the edge of the evening street.
Fruit trees, plane trees, crickets in the night:
all of this is built for peace,
but never built to last.
Some hands hold their stories tight;
others hold them open, to say,
Here I came when the war was done,
or, Here I lost my mother.
Hands cupped like hearts line the street;
stories filling houses beat.
Old street names speak of sheaves of wheat;
some go out weeping, some sing,
dream of other homes, or these,
and best and worst all suburbs breathe
and hearts still beat Your name, although
in early autumn dust we seldom
stop to hear, to praise.