It might sound morbid, but I’ve been reading a lot of epitaphs lately. It’s because I’ve been spending a lot of time in a cemetery. Melbourne General Cemetery, to be precise. I go there most days, via the Macpherson Street gates. On entering, the road is flanked with contemporary graves. Many of these are Italian. Their epitaphs are mostly brief, though flush with sentiment. Beyond that stretch, the road diverts. I head right and curve toward the Princes Park side to one of many Roman Catholic sections. On the way, by the road, an especially eye-catching memorial. A bronze head […]
The boundaries of the state are elusive and arbitrary. Beyond and between them is a void. The idea of ‘Australia’ ends just a few metres from where I’m writing, in an alley between this building and the next. From my workday window I gaze directly into several rooms opposite, the windows of a hotel now co-opted as a detention centre; a prison for men who fled one state under duress and are yet to find the comfort of belonging in another. Rain is spattering, the day is suddenly cool. There are lights on and men in their rooms. I walk […]
I’m always a little hesitant to speak about the books I’ve read. And that’s because there are so many books I haven’t read. Compared to a lot of authors I know, I get through an embarrassingly small number of books. The reason is that I read painfully slowly. Sentence by sentence, word by word. And I go back and re-read sentences just to make sure I’ve really understood and appreciated them. When I’m sure there’s no one listening, I like to read out loud, rolling each word around my mouth. And when I can’t read out loud, I read just […]
I love my city. I was born in this city. One day I’ll die here. I learned to love it by leaving it and now I grieve and sulk and rage with it. My vibrant, posturing, mercurial city. Flawed and cracked and verdant and roaring, now silent and sullen. Stupefied by yet another lockdown when we know we’ve already done enough. Done too much. The novelty wore off long ago. Bread makers and baking tins gather dust at the back of cupboards not cleaned out since the frenetic activity of Lockdown One. Yesterday I sidled past the long irritable queues […]
On Australia’s ‘Day of Shame’, after the release of the Brereton Report, there was much talk of ‘warrior culture’ and ‘bad apples’. Sir Galahad, shining exemplar of warrior culture, never burnt villages or murdered children, but ‘bad apples’ has more of a ring of truth if applied to the few soldiers who take pleasure in killing. The uncomfortable phrase ‘blood lust’ rarely gets a mention, in spite of a nod in that direction in the Brereton Report.
Was not the world a vast prison, and women born slaves? Was I a monster, a blot upon the earth, from which all men fled and whom all men disowned? May I not witness your grief? Am I not your friend? Art thou not tired, and beaten with stripes, even as I am? Who buys a minute’s mirth to wail a week? Joy?
My parents chastised my brothers and me because we grew too quickly. The lifespan of a shoe was a fixed length that they could not reduce to suit the size of our feet. Our clothes, always second hand, fitted us poorly and we often went hungry, so it makes sense that memories of food are the strongest of my childhood. We ate damper smothered with butter and Vegemite.
xmas lights trapeze across campsites. all-day
bbq smell makes me reconsider my vego status.
no-one tells you swimming is more fun
in the wading pool. has Mum ever existed
without a cigarette in her hand. smoke