The Night Stalker

 

I awoke and heard the rhythm of your breathing

The sound of the waves outside our bamboo window

And with the sudden appearance of the tropic’s dawn

 

Saw the night stalker

Seemingly glued to the thatch ceiling of our hut

Stone age acrobat

So delicately painted on the morning’s blank face.

Black brown body crossed by aquamarine stripes,

Diamond shaped head with eyes like crystal balls of black,

Eyes keened to darkness.

Long toes splayed out like the leaves of a papaya tree,

And the tail!

In the form of an ‘S’, long, tapering into something as

Fine an insect’s antennae.

 

You awoke, a smile lit your face.

The night stalker fled into the thatch roof seeking

Refuge from the light.

 

We made love, discovered each other once again

And I too fled

Inside somewhere deep, my own refuge from the light.

 

Quiet Places

 

Sometimes

Travelling this land

Scarred, plundered, desolated

 

It is possible to find

Quiet Places

Beyond the noise of civilisation –

traffic, TV, mobile phone, lawnmowers, leaf blowers, trail bikes –

 

Where you can lose yourself

And see Them

 

Drinking the Sacred Water

 

Worshipping the stone cliffs

 

Dancing naked

Under the shelter of the night

The stars and the moon

 

Their bodies painted

In the ochre of the The Earth.

 

The Street Vendor

127

 

At first light the boy brought him two plastic sacks of sweets –
Orbs of puffed rice glued together with toffee –
In preparation for the holiday to commemorate God
When street vendors could expect to make some extra rupees

I watched him struggle to keep those sacks
On his tiny bicycle-wheeled trolley along with his
Iron scales and weights, a stack of paper bags made from old newspapers
And a small mound of unsold rice balls left over from the day before.

I watched him that bent old man in his cotton kurta
Juggling the means of his survival at the start of the day.

In the evening I saw him again
When I bought a bag of those sticky sweet orbs –
four for a rupee –

The street was noisy, crowded
It was hot
The air foul with fumes and smoke

The two big plastic sacks were still on his trolley
Only half of one sack had been sold

And he was still standing there
Juggling his survival
Fourteen hours after I first saw him
That old street vendor.

 

 

For photos and stories about street vendors from many different nations, see Serious Travel Images:

https://serioustravelimages.com/2016/02/24/street-vendors/

https://serioustravelimages.com/2016/03/08/street-vendors-part-2/

https://serioustravelimages.com/2016/03/27/street-vendors-part-3/

Walking Blind

 

We followed the white man’s trail but got lost in the emptiness.

We were walking blind, without maps or compass or GPS.

That was the only way to see, to really see, this country.

Nothing to distract us, nothing to measure or quantify.

Walking blind, without aims or purpose, without goals or destination.

 

Walking blind, our imaginations free to remember what happened.

Free to re-imagine this land as it once was.

Free to remember the enormity of the crime and what it was like when they were still here, those first pilgrims.

 

Blind!

That was the only way to find them.

 

We followed their footprints into the desert.

We listened to the echoes of their songs, still reverberating in the narrow canyons, still alive in the night skies ablaze with glittering stars.

In the sound of bird song, we heard their poems.

In the sound gum leaves clattering on the breeze, we heard echoes of a corroboree and the haunting sound of the didgeridoo

We remembered those souls who had lived in this ancient land for thousands of years.

We went on our own kind of pilgrimage and paid homage to those pilgrims from long ago; they who knew that the only real pilgrimage was moving and never arriving.

 

Yes, truly, it was a beautiful journey.

 

But it almost killed us. No water. 

We were not them and we did not know how to survive in this hard country.

We did not know how to recite their songs and poems, their myths and their stories, and so we did not know their country.

The desert was an unforgiving place for foreigners.