The Young Widow Reflects

The Young Widow Reflects
Forgiveness comes hard for the blue-bearded man. I remember the love and joy I offered for his charm.
But the bodies in the closet, their reek of decay and the dried blood have made indelible stains that won’t leave his hands.
Hands that felt so tender. Strong, long-fingered, elegant hands. Hands once filled with roses or with jewels. Hands that turned the key in the lock on that little room.
I can still see the staring decapitated heads. He would have killed me too. I had to do what I did.

Written 2005; recently rediscovered. I think I would rewrite the tale rather differently now – and perhaps I shall – but I think this version has its own validity.

Shared with Poets and Storytellers United's Writers' Pantry #28.

Léon Pereira, Apothecary

Léon Pereira, Apothecary

My cousin remembered seeing, among family papers, a document signed by my great-grandfather. So we knew his profession.

Those papers didn’t come from India to Australia. Destroyed? Maybe left with another branch of the family – long-lost to distance, time, our ageing and dying.

I know some of his story. (Tassie nights around the fire. Older relatives reminiscing, conjuring a different world. We kids, agog, kept quiet so they wouldn’t remember us and send us to bed.)

I heard of his wooing Jane, the legendary beauty (‘very fair’ they said – which I understand differently now). The note smuggled into the orphanage. Escape, elopement.

The nuns were scandalised. Only 14! A High Court judge's daughter! She shouldn’t have been in the room when he came seeking a bride. Spying him through the window, immediately smitten, she snuck in, sitting on a pile of books to look taller. Yes, he chose her; they hustled her out. However....

Now I ponder, what was a child with…

Echoes of Footsteps

Echoes of Footsteps

Pounding the pavement, they call it,
that heavy, resigned, no-end-in-sight walking.
Or pacing, when it’s done indoors.

I fancy I’d rather walk a bush track
with soft earth, leaves and grasses underfoot,
and birds nearby shifting and rustling,

their chatty little calls oblivious of me
and my concerns…. But I’m not,
I’m walking repetitively away from you

as I have done for years, when memory
returns you: walking that day and all days
away from me – stiffly, as if you didn’t want to.

And it was a pavement you trod. You didn’t
look back (I know because I did). In my mind
when this resurfaces, I’m always walking

away in the opposite direction. And lucky me,
it was toward sunlight and freedom, and loves
enough to dull the anguish, a life to go on to

eventually, after the walking and walking
I did in those later months of shock and grief,
talking to you in my head, uselessly.

Decades later I asked my most psychic friend
if you’re with the angels. (Someone else told me

Hello Earth #28

Hello again, Earth!
Here we are, on the last day of June 2020, for the last of these daily letters to you. It’s been fun! But now it stops. It’s not you, it’s me.     Wisecracks aside, it’s been an amazing four weeks. Doing this daily has taken me to unexpected realisations. And it has been good to conjure you, Earth, as a present, listening companion.
Earth, you are so much bigger than that. I inhabit one small, relatively green and unpolluted part of you. I’m aware of the rest, have travelled some of it, lived in other places than here ... but I let this region stand for the all. Still, it’s you I speak to, that whole greater than the sum of the parts, which at the same time infuses every part — as an arm is to the body, or any one life form is to God.
Leaning in, I blow you a kiss, dear Earth. I’m not going to keep doing this daily, but l’m thinking of doing something similar from time to time. Maybe weekly? We’ll see. But I won’t leave it vague. This exercise has shown me the value o…

Hello Earth #27

Hello dear Earth, dear Earth hello
Here it’s sunny today, and I feel glorious. The tiny few clouds in the sky are feathering the rim of the mountains over the way, leaving the vast expanse clear. My plants have been steadily rained on, and now are lifting their faces to drink the sun.
Earth, I marvel at your weathers which result in such real, visible effects. Nature is indeed a Goddess, all-knowing, all-wise, all-nurturing. (OK, for now we’ll conveniently ignore floods, hailstorms, cyclones ... no doubt they too have their uses.)
Leaning in, I reflect how this pandemic has had its uses, as we have been forced to confront different ways of living, and we have been shown the good effects of our reduced ‘footprints’ on the landscape. These lessons come at horrendous cost. Here in Australia, where the danger has been handled fairly well, it’s hard to imagine what it must be like In countries where thousands are dying daily. It must seem as if no object lessons could be worth it ... and ye…

Hello Earth #26

Hello Earth, dear Earth —

Here I am once more, on a dingy wet morning outside, cosily en-caved in here. I'm still in pyjamas, late in the morning. I think I’ll make this steadily-drizzling Sunday a stay-in-jarmies day. I've been playing with lipstick, a new tube in my favourite colour (I ran out of the old one quick). Odd, to be in my jarmies (+ cardigan and ugg boot slippers) with no make-up and bed hair, sporting lippy. But no-one is likely to see. And if they do — well, the bed hair looks surprisingly good today, curly all over. I wanted to try what this paint-on lippy felt like without the accompanying gloss. It felt tacky, so the gloss is now on too. (Well, no sense wiping the lippy off instead; this one's hard to remove, designed to last all day.)
Earth, you can tell I’m feeling relaxed and silly, positively frivolous. All the serious stuff about life in general is still going on, out there beyond the cave walls, but for today it can stay there. Sometimes a woman needs…

Hello Earth #25

Hello Earth
Here, again, I greet you, after a day of all sorts of small tasks. Some were domestic and practical tasks, all the little things that add up to taking care of myself. Others were digital and communicative. A news report on telly tonight said people have been using the internet more during the pandemic, to stay connected. I was already using it that way, for years. It doesn’t feel abnormal.
Earth, I like you at night when everything goes quiet — on winter nights, that is. In summer the nights have all kinds of sounds, of people and other creatures. In winter I feel as if I am in a cave: a surrounding, protective cocoon, but with plenty of room to move within it.  
Leaning in, I savour the ownership of my space. Not that I do own it, I rent it. But it’s Government housing and I have tenure. Unlike private rentals, I can put pictures on the walls wherever I like; I can have pets if I want to; I don’t have to worry about huge hikes in the rent. It feels like mine; it feels like h…