Australian Stories # 1 – Before the magpie sung me up.

It’s eight years since I left Australia full-time to explore beyond these shark-bitten frontiers. At that time I was empty of stories and exhausted with the thin pickings of a suburban existence on a land that cried out for … what?
I’d been living in the Aussie bush for five years and seen snakes, whales, sharks, goanna, the wattle in fresh bloom and the gentle traces of this land’s people – in rock art, in story and in the bitten-at faces of my small town, wracked with suicide and lanced with fence posts as it was.
Since then I’ve been on a walkabout, I suppose. Shedding off and gathering stories. Peeling away bark and letting buds compose themselves.
I came back to an Australia where the headline of the major newspaper explained that Australia rhymes with Failure – and I felt a surge of love and compassion for the people here that pitched into a perfect, curving wave. If only… if only Australians knew, or remembered, the beauty, the dignity, the wonder of themselves and this powerful land!
It’s one thing to take a quest, to potter off into the world or the wild or the unknown for a while; it’s another to bring back something worthwhile – something to offer, and which the people can recognise and receive.
I knew coming ‘home’ would be tougher than leaving. Require more honesty and more humility than it took to turn up in the world and take a place among strangers – the missfits, the inspired, the beautiful, the lost, the visionaries and thieves.
I hope to be able to find some gold in my pockets and to hold it to the Australian light so it might glitter there, in ways that might bring new things to show themselves to me and to others.
But before that, and having somehow chosen to land under the Southern Cross at the dawn of winter, there has been a welcome to country both fierce and dainty – which is, I understand at last – the essence of the place.
I wrote this about a week after landing. In about a minute on Skype to a friend. I was in the burbs of Perth after almost 10 months in Bali. My morning view of a lotus blooming its head off outside the kitchen window was suddenly replaced by an infinity of thin sky and red brick. It was the furthest I’d been from a wild environment since 2008 and I was still struggling with the speed of my transition.
rapidly she withers
in the unstoried air.
her net cast wide
in the halogen void
catches only the brittle echo
of a longago wild,
and the frigid shells
of raindrops
empty of delight
for their fall
onto concrete
and synthetic grass
and wheely bins.
the lotus closes back
into its own seed.
without mud
it dares not exhale
nor snuggle down
to rest.
but withdraws
to a bunker,
for shelter
and not yet
for becoming.

10 thoughts on “Australian Stories # 1 – Before the magpie sung me up.

  1. So you return. What you sought I hope you found, at least some of. Some gold. May you find all you need where you are.

  2. How often I read your words sing on my screen… How often I marvel at how you encapsulate an emotion or feeling in a lyrical poetry. How often I think, why didn’t I think of that? This post was no exception. If only I wrote as well as you. Saw the world as you do…

    I don’t comment as often as I should. Mostly because my internet connection is usually crap, and it’s difficult to get on, difficult to sign in. No excuses to not congratulate you on a job well done but, I’m loathe to keep inputting my details. Blah blah blah. But you really are my favorite blogger, and I really do hope that you continue to post and share your thoughts with us now that you’re back down under. Especially because you’re now back down under…

    Home for the wanderer – a highly regulated country with a dark history, yet whose quality of light and cloud and expansive sky I have never experienced anywhere else. A country to get lost in. A place I dream about. I can’t wait to experience it through your senses, expressed in your words.

    You have a way with words… 😉

  3. Yes. Accidentally, and in winter! I think it’s a case, Michael, of discovering the gold that was already there, waiting for those eyes that can see it. Thank you for your comment here, and your blessing too.

  4. Hey! Wow! You are a master of that great art: the short sentence. I loved reading this post, it was sooo … relaxing! Thank you. Yes, I’m back.. and in reverse this time, seeing the land from the other coast, and experiencing a wilderness still full of song, and hurt. I just feel like writing – like mad! – and I’m very grateful to have this lift under my wings.
    Thank you for sending me such a beautiful and encouraging message. I really was just delighted to find it.

  5. Really? But thank you! I had no idea that there was a name to describe the way I write. ( I just thought I was a bit … well… crap… at expressing myself.) The short sentence seems to perfectly describe my ‘style’, so thank you for enlightening me, as I had no idea it had a name. (And I often force myself to join up my sentences and use more commas, because my sentences seem so JARRING sometimes. Too short. No good. Not like yours which seems to flow, lyrically like lovely poetry). But anyway, I digress… sorry…

    Just very happy to hear that you’re inspired to write, I’m sure I’m not alone in being very excited by the prospect of more posts from you! I’ve followed along with the insights about the fake Guru’s (Josh now peddling his Candida treatment?) in Vilacamba and the truth about the Galapagos, and I’ve often thought, goddang in real life I would hug this girl! You rock! Enjoy.

  6. Ooo! How lovely! Well… on style: it is in fact the short sentence that is most admired. So even if you think you can’t ‘express’ yourself, at least you are fashionable.
    I’m reading Steinbeck again, Mice and Men – that book is a triumph of the short sentence. And a testimony to the beauty of men and how they see the world. Maybe it would interest you?
    Hmmm… my own style, I’m glad you enjoy it and I’m grateful to be encouraged to post. You’d be surprised, the number of nasty jabs I get – mostly from women… strangely. Apparently ones who never read Tom Robbins.
    Ick! Fat Josh and Casper – two cretins of the lowest sort… among a host of cretins, in general, such a shame for the valley, such a shame for everybody, really.

  7. Thanks for the recommend, Cowgirl, I will take a look! I used to be an avid reader, but I just don’t seem to get enough time these days (unless it’s a Tom Robbins! For that I’d make all the time in the world!) 😉

    Ahh… Tom Robbins – what a blast from the past!

    I consider his first 7 novellas as some of the most memorable I’ve ever read. Love the guy. Loved his books. And am in love, still, with his characters (even though it seems like I read them in a different life)… Back in the days of long, dusty Indian bus journeys, nestled in a small bungalow beside the river in SiPhanDon, trekking in Annapurna… Me and my back pack, and my secondhand paperbacks. Still Life with Woodpecker, Jitterbug Perfume, Skinny Legs and All… They were happy days. 😀

    Women, men, humans beings… I’ve come to consider most of them insane, Cowgirl. It baffles me how neurotic, selfish and downright stupid folk can be. My benchmark being that most of them believe in an invisible man living in the sky, meting out punishment if they take ‘his’ name in vain. And while the human race is on it’s knees, praying to the invisible man for more stuff, or a better this or that, this beautiful planet that we all depend on for our survival is being ravaged, raped and polluted. It makes no sense to me. And those women who make jabs at you, neither do they. Never mind them. They’re nothing more than buzzing mosquitoes with assholes where their brain should be. And they suck. Keep doing what you love doing, living passionately, and writing beautifully. Observation, intelligence and good writing, are so very hard to find these days!

  8. You capture the sterility of Perth suburbia beautifully. It is because I dwell here too that so often I flee to the bush and camp beside rivers surrounded by trees. Then I am in heaven and want for nothing. In such places inspiration pours through me ceaselessly.

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