Wednesday, December 10, 2014

To find the rabbit waiting

She told me to tie the long, grey towelling rabbit by its ears to the sapling, because this way, should the child who had lost it return, she or he would find the rabbit waiting and what joy would ensue, so now I tell her that when I go down the path from Govetts Leap I manage to forget what I'd done -- about my abject obedience I almost say -- until I come to the bend where the thing is dangling, and each time I'm struck not so much by the body that's now hard to distinguish from the bark but the way the once brown stitches of the rabbit's eyes have become drained, as I've been trying to call it -- it's hard to describe -- of all that is friendly -- not dead of course, since it's always been dead.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Dainties on King Street

At the corner of the first block: a single arum lily left upright against a tree, its bulb bare and fringed with pale roots; in the middle of the third: broken chunks of white polystyrene in a pot of plastic restaurant flowers (it is not yet night); in the second block: a green padded jacket with its arms spread wide, loose, generous even, over the back of a wooden bus seat -- so pleased, as if it's conducted this whole thing for us -- these dainties on King Street -- but one of the arms is twisted unnaturally -- is it dead? -- and most of what we can see is only the lining.

Friday, August 22, 2014

For whatever is hidden is meant to be disclosed, and whatever is concealed is meant to be brought out into the open

A view, coming around the corner of the university library, of someone on the phone who, leaning forwards over the cobblestones on one tiptoed foot, is noiselessly leaking from his open mouth one long white pendulous gobbet before pivoting and huddling over his handset to say that he'd been just about to spit when someone had come around the corner.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Gathering Evidence

Since she had last seen Newtown, she told me, King Street had gone downhill, what with the homeless people lying open-mouthed and snoring on blankets on the footpath -- and on the north side of the street too, which meant that they were vulnerable to the squalls from the south -- and so many shops closed, the windows smeared and empty, which was due to the rents that the owners were charging -- ten thousand dollars for a single week, she'd heard, and these weren't the original owners but the sons and daughters of those original owners who had worked out that, even if their shops stayed empty, no rent coming in, they would save thousands and thousands of dollars in tax from their many other investments and so, in the end, would be far better off.

To a girl in one of the closing down shops who, since she was suffering from pleurisy, was unable to keep still -- the pleurisy making her want to iron all the pieces that my friend wanted to try on or to dash from one side of the shop to the other to find a pure wool jacket that she could make a very good price, with the pile of clothing the owners had brought in that morning still heaped, unsorted, on the counter and the girl's still feverish hand pressing to the cornered edge of her forehead as she described how she had recently had to give up her doctorate on Elizabeth Gyring but that now, if my friend could believe it, she was far better off -- to this particular girl my friend had recommended a book she thought the girl should read for no other reason than that there was pleurisy and anger in it -- a bit of pleurisy and a lot of anger.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

The gorge of the darkened kitchen

Isn't it always when walking along a street in the dark that you pass close by a lit up window where a white Maltese terrier has climbed onto the back of a sofa to touch its tongue to the glass whereupon you recall, suddenly, that for at least half an hour that morning you were convinced that you were going to be hospitalised with a disease as corrosively gruesome as osteomyelitis -- the lit up window with the laughing dog and the gorge of the darkened kitchen behind it making you feel as if the light at the front of that house was turned on you?

Saturday, April 26, 2014


Kate told me about how they were sitting in the café in the park – or rather sitting in that square of grass between paths that the café had taken over from it – with Geraldine asking after her son as Kate knew she was going to do, it being January and the university placements only recently come out – asking after Eric, Kate reckoned, for the sole purpose of telling Kate about just how well her own son was doing – all very carefully trying to avoid even as she was clearly wanting to and so failing not to mention how brilliantly her son had done at the Higher School Certificate and how, by taking the full year off, he was risking missing out on a university scholarship – how, during all of this, it was just as if a white and flaking branch had been swung at them: how there were some bleating cries, a sudden stink, and what had to be dozens or even hundreds of corellas passed over their heads, landing on the other side of the path from where they were sitting – and straight from this story about her old friend Geraldine from Canada Bay, Kate started to tell me about how much she hated corellas: just the way they heaved their little fat hips over the grass, not caring that their faces were ravaged by yesterday’s tippling, making out that their lives were hard – how they always left the drought-yellow grass thinner and yellower and scattered with their horrible under feathers, and how, in the evenings, the trees in every direction rang with their plaintive, falling calls.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Enjoying it properly

She said that while she loved the animals, and particularly the shellac-tongued wolves who were hurling themselves against a sheet of nothing in Cai Guo-Qiang's Falling Back to Earth exhibition in Brisbane -- the whole experience of walking among all those oddly kiddy animation figures in empty spaces -- of seeming the only alive and impatient thing in a frozen room so long as the other tourists didn't move too quickly (and in the room with the jelly-like pool, her incomprehension that the white-mottled blue should actually be liquid: that the drop falling from the beam above was falling into something that ran rather than shivered) -- while she loved all this, as soon as she noticed the imperfections in the meetings of animal feet and floor or sand -- the gaps all over the place -- these apparently trivial imperfections stopped her from enjoying it properly since all she could think about now was how the thick splayed legs of stiffened fur were hollow. The Story Bridge, however, with its frequent signs that addressed imminent suicides was something she didn't expect at all: these signs and the bridge's continual groaning -- as well as its raised view of the red scraped cliffs under the place called Fortitude Valley.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

No earthly use to them if we stopped

As soon as we saw the little red car with its hood up and three figures around it by the side of the Bylong Valley Way I thought, the poor suckers, and all the more poor suckers since Vance and I, as we've often said, would be no earthly use to them if we stopped -- we couldn't even ring anyone since there had been no mobile coverage for hours -- perhaps we could offer them water -- just perhaps we could squeeze a person behind (to take them where exactly? Vance was asking) -- but as I slowed a bit (there were ruts in the road) I could see that the figures I thought were worried about the oil or a broken pump were in fact just leaning towards each other over the engine to compose a selfie that they were sending, I had to assume, into a future that might include a show-off moment -- a joke at a party, a funny post -- about the time they broke down or appeared to break down on the Bylong Valley Way.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014


On the day that the police were going to ring me about my fifteen-year-old son, I was still thinking about what he had called out to me – at least what I could remember of it, which was only the single word ‘bucket’ – just before he left the house for school – thinking about this odd word ‘bucket’ even when I arrived at the top of the stairs at Erskineville station where, seeing that there was a man who looked as if he were reluctant to descend and another already descending the last of the stairs to the platform, I made the rapid interpretation that there was something wrong with the man who was nearly on the platform and that the man at the top of the stairs could see this and preferred to keep himself safe. On a weekday, I’d noticed, and particularly when I left the house this late, platform two was usually mostly empty, so my decision to keep going down the stairs, past the reluctant man, towards the other man, who didn’t yet seem particularly strange, even though I knew he was, and who was the only other person on the platform – this decision must have looked to the reluctant man like a lapse of caution. After all, I was thinking, surely a beefy, serious-looking, knowing man would stand a much better chance against what looked to be a lither, younger, but worse-dressed man than a smallish woman of my sort. After all, if a man such as the man at the top of the stairs was reluctant to go down to the platform where the younger man, as I saw, was already weaving as he walked, now hunched with his hands to his face, as if lighting a joint, and not far enough from the steps for me to stop short of him without drawing attention – if such a serious-looking man was so reluctant to descend the stairs onto the platform, then wasn’t my decision to go down the stairs all the same the most stupid decision that a woman of my sort could make?

Of course, once I got going, it seemed far more ridiculous to stop short at the bottom of the stairs, so I passed the badly-dressed man, who had turned (no joint) and was now in mid soliloquy about the fucking smoke (from a passing train) and the fucking signs, and just at the moment when I was most quietly proud of my decision to defy the better-dressed man who was probably still watching from the stairs, I was asked by the badly-dressed man if the trains on this platform went west and my answer, which was yes, at least I hope so, could not have been more provocative, I realised even as I said it, because his answering you hope so, you hope so, went high and loud, reaching out to the Woolworths sign on the fence. I have got this far, I was thinking then. Now that I have passed the man and responded to his question, I should go to the farthest end of the platform. The people on platform one across the lines will then be able to see if I am attacked by the badly-dressed man who might now have been stirred into an unstoppable mania by my words at least I hope so. They might watch the assault and do nothing, but at least they might watch it. Even the man at the top of the stairs might watch what happens.

Not knowing, yet, about what my son was doing with his friends on another loop of the lines – the Inner West Line – when he should have been at school – his participation, as it was put, in the incident involving the death of a young man and the defacement of railway property – in fact not knowing yet what I should have known if I’d given my mind to it, which was that my son had been giving me clues all year about what he’d been doing with his friends, but that I had not picked up on a single one of these clues – that I had always thought I had to respect him and that I had always respected him, that I had always treated my son as I continued to imagine he would like to be treated – not knowing any of this, by the time I got on the train when it pulled alongside the platform, I was feeling so elated by my near miss, as I had fashioned it in my head, and my bravery, in particular, for daring to descend the stairs towards what could even have turned out to be a maniac or a rapist, that I turned to look out the window when I sat down and was entranced, soon, by the spooling outwards of the streets and of my ebbing, bright tipped energy, of my thrumming, quiet connection with the world about me.