Over another Hump

Sunday, November 06, 2005

The Convict Bridge

This bridge has always been important to our family. It was built just below our paternal grandparents home and we played around its arches, threw stones from its walls and generally claimed it as our special place. In the days when children had more freedom than they have now, my siblings, cousins, friends and I explored the creek and often had a picnic under its shade. I pity those children who never had this freedom, a childhood without water to play in seems sterile to me.
The Convict Bridge.
It has spanned this sandy creek
since colonial days.
We learned to swim beneath its arches,
in summer, sheltered in the shade.
Built from local stone,
welded with groans, blood
and curses of convicts
transported for displeasing the king,
or stealing a loaf of bread.
Each rock remembers those cries,
the chain clinks,
crack from whip - or worse,
and the tyranny which built
this monument to misery. Frances Mackay 2005

Letter to a Travelling Companion.

Prizewinning Painting 'Almost Forgotten', painted by Sandra Wilson, 2005 and printed with her permission. I think it works well with this poem I wrote to farewell a favourite old car of my own. The only time this car refused to start was the day we took it to the tip. We had to tow it away.
Letter to my Travelling Companion.
Dear friend,
How often have we jolted over this busy road,
steel rails embedded in blue bitumen?
While morning mists engulf us,
and ghost trams rattle
we dice with erratic traffic.

Sleepy fruiterers, trucks laden with pumpkins,
cabbages and apples, cheerful horns busy,
dodge fish vendors’ freezer vans.
Fresh from markets they race to tempt
customers with the day’s specials.

Thursdays we waft past fragrant florist vans -
Interflora, secretive, enclosed, sterile:
others flaunt exotic palms, tubs of brilliant
flowers and share their perfumes with us.
In spring we carry boronia scent to work.
We pass factory workers at change of shift,
yawning, in uniform denim, chatty t-shirts under jackets,
stomping feet to beat dawn’s chill.
Grimy and puffing long-awaited cigarettes,
they hail the day shift who clock in.

You excel at traffic lights, your engine purrs,
we leave sedate silver models
standing in our smoke,
smoke that finally must part us -
so the condemning citation states.
Today is our last trip. Registration is due and,
though your body is sound,
you are a dinosaur, a guzzler of gas
impractical to convert, say those
who haven’t travelled with you daily.

Tomorrow we will tow you to the dump where
body snatchers, like vultures, wait to strip you.
No doubt I will pass your grafted parts along
the route we travelled, cream fender attached
to coloured body. I’ll salute you in passing,
a passenger where once a pilot.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Spring Racing Carnival

The Melbourne Cup, the race that stops a nation, is over again for another year. I missed out on the festivities because I was waiting for the Telstra contractor to come and fix my internet connection. We don’t have that many social occasions here and I was a bit down because I had to miss the luncheon.I didn’t even watch the race on television because I had forgotten that the rest of the country was on daylight savings and that the race was an hour earlier than I expected. Another horse has become a legend. Three Melbourne Cup wins. Not even Phar Lap did that.However, I won third prize in the local sweep AND the dear contractor arrived to fix my satellite connection. I now can play around the world again. But I do miss Melbourne in spring. It was always a special place at that time. Unfortunately this poor little fellow never made it past this stage but he was too beautiful not to display, wasn't he?

Melbourne in Spring. © 2003

I miss Melbourne in spring time,
morning mists clinging
to branches of elm and plane trees,
luminescent leaves,
rivalling the office girls’
bright finery.

The distant distinctive rattle
as trams cross junctions,
the malty smell from the brewery
floating across the Yarra,
carried on frosty air,
exciting taste buds.

Dancing daffodils in buckets
direct from produce market,
street flower vendors
inciting frivolity after
dormant drudgery
of winter months.

I miss my spring.