Lately, an extended family of magpies
have taken to my front yard.
The summer ground is hard and dry as salt biscuits,
so the appeal must be the shade of the young Japanese maple.
The fat adults all look the same,
but the youngsters come in shades of grey
and dirty white,
and that lean look so prized by fashion.
They warble their way through sonatas and afternoons,
turning to me as I check the letter box,
as if to say: get off our lawn.
When I oodle-ardle-wardle at them,
they regard me with amusement.
Why is that large pink creature,
the colour of a fat worm,
speaking nonsense in a heavy accent?
Foolish thing. Ignore.
I’m not owning that
one raven for sorrow.
I saw a single raven lurching
through a garden filled with sunset coloured
gnomes, both metal and concrete.
“Hail to The Morrigan,” I said,
as it flew away.
The Goddess reminding me
She is always on the wing,
stepping clawed and beaked
on the Earth,
keeping a black eye on my life.
She might be anger,
She is protection,
but sorrow is not
what we are about,
this Spring day.
Up towards the far end of Bellbird Dell, a short bushland walk of maybe one hour return trip, I heard music. Grumpy, and determined to have A Walk, I griped to myself about inconsiderate households playing music loud enough to disturb the natural sounds of the dell. Not that neighbouring houses could help it, because they back right onto the bushland, and I’m sure their unraised voices would be heard.
Piano sounds lilted through the air.
On my return trudge, I heard the music again. As I came to the fork in the path, where I have the choice of walking further on the path, or heading off along a wooden walkway, I saw a family of four. I realised that the older boy, perhaps ten years old, was playing a large electric keyboard on a stand.
His mother was on her mobile phone, talking rapidly and quietly, walking back and forth as she did so. No particular intensity to her words, just a never-ending stream of them. The younger son was first occupied looking at something his father pointed out in the bushes, and then stood pulling a long set of faces.
The father stood up from pointing things out, and came back to where his older son was playing. He checked the video camera on a stand, and then retrieved a digital camera from a bag and began snapping pictures of the piano-playing son.
The music wasn’t classical, but rather new age-y. Drifting and meandering, with no particular theme or repetition. The boy wore a deep red velvet jacket, and a cream shirt underneath, with black trousers. His thick shiny black hair formed a helmet over his bent head. He watched his hands as if surprised at what was pouring out of them.
The notes were even, and around them, birdsong ceased. The clearing they stood in was thin on winter foliage, and at 4pm, the first signs of dusk were coming on.
I worried that the crunch of my shoes on the gritty path would interfere with the recording. I slowed down, but I still crunched as I walked. I wanted to sit down on the cold damp ground and watch and listen, but didn’t.
I walked slowly by, giving two thumbs up to the father, who was the only one who acknowledged me, and mouthed: ‘Good’, my eyes darting towards the boy.
I kept going, but wanted to stay.
A new poetry prompt from Imaginary Garden With Real Toads.
“Please keep your poem under 150 words. Choose any four words that fit best with the mood/theme/personality of your poem on a topic of your choice.
lucid fiery twilight silhouette despair touch plunge frost goldcrest wind
sleep colour aspect murmuring coffee
gravel leaf october branch notes”
The year creeps towards the long day, short night,
and it’s not a time for anything to sleep.
Wattles provide ample gold amongst the khaki leaves.
The Dandenong Ranges haze purple and blue,
as new eucalyptus oil diffuses into the air.
A fledgling magpie is silhouetted on a roof top,
feeling the wind with her streamlined face.
The evening edges in around the sides of the world,
asking if it’s okay to sit down.
Lorikeets discuss this, as though, if they say no,
the dark will leave again.
Soon, it is Beltaine, the love festival,
celebration of male-female union,
fertility, the bountiful earth.
Maypoles stand ready for us
to weave the coming year.
Staying true to my country, my Southern Hemisphere Wheel of the Year, October is Spring time, and the weather can range from biting cold to humid and hot in a single day. This evening, looking out of my loungeroom window, there’s a high grey sheet of cloud across the sky, a coolish breeze, but the air is still warm. It’s 7pm, and the deeper colour of the gum trees shows through now that there’s not direct sun on the leaves. Two ducks, of all things, have just flown past my window. I can hear lorikeets putting themselves to bed, with their raucous carry-on of discussing the whole day, all at once. They nest in trees hereabouts.
It’s been warm-to-hot day, and I’ve spent most of the day reading. I overdid it a little at the gym, so I’ve deliberately slowed down today, had a lot of water, and maybe resisted the siren call of sugar by perhaps 10%. Thus, I’m settled enough this evening to simply sit and observe the evening, listen to walkers going past, the beginning of the evening round of flights coming into Melbourne airport. Many of them come in over my neighbourhood.
In a moment, I’ll post this, and continue reading, coincidentally, about sirens. Something is brewing in my story brain. I just have to wait now till it’s ready to fledge, like the magpie chick.
Imaginary Gardens with Real Toads poetry blog has sent out the call to address ‘earth grief’ – some aspect of our planet’s struggle with pollution, over-population, climate change.
A Clashing Song
The orange and the cumquat trees must go.
Their trunks are slender compared to nearby gums;
only a few minutes to slice through with a chainsaw.
Spring fruit down the driveway into the gutter.
No one picks them up.
It takes longer to dig out the roots,
but the neighbours can’t have new growth
coming up through floorboards.
Not content with their two-storey house,
they are expanding the brick walls,
and the gardens must go.
Bigger rooms, larger windows,
with a high view to the Dandenong Ranges,
and a huge satellite dish stand
to replace the disused greenhouse.
An older house with comfortable 70’s angles
getting a facelift,
and looking plastic and new,
A raven caws at the man installing the satellite dish.
He doesn’t hear, for his ear buds are singing him
a clashing song.
Oranges roll down the road,
and are squashed by cars.
The air smells of citrus
and brick dust.
This past weekend has been a roller coaster for me.
- My grand-daughter is in hospital. At first she was in the Paediatric Intensive Care Unit, with bilateral pneumonia, bacterial and viral infections, and ear infections. She is now on a close-watch ward, with an oxygen and heart rate monitor, and tonight is receiving some hi-flo oxygen to assist her breathing. Thus, I have not only been on healer alert, but Grandma duty.
- The Far East Belly Dance Collective staged a small festival, and I was assisting on Saturday, and attended 3/4 of a make-up tutorial on Sunday. For the first time in a very long time, I felt it was possible, 10 minutes at a time, to reclaim my dancer self, and re-find my skills, fitness level, and enjoy doing it. It’s taken a nearly ten year break from dancing and teaching, but I finally miss it, and had a little cry in my car on Saturday afternoon, after watching some dancers on stage.
I am still spread thin, between Reiki Master, Grandma, and touching base with writer, dancer, blogger, and (ugh) housewife selves. Moment by moment, I choose which persona to wear, all the while making sure my own centre self doesn’t get dragged into stress, rush, and a chorus of ‘must do’.
Last night, exhausted from the weekend, I took twenty minutes to do a little restorative yoga, and put myself to bed at 9pm. I slept through until 8am.
Today, after paying a visit to my grand-daughter in hospital, and bringing colouring books, crayons, and some strawberries, I took myself to my favourite gift, crystal, and new age bookshop, for a potter, and some time out. Retail therapy, but I trusted the right things came my way.
Tonight, it will be another early night, with some dedicated reading time. I’ll be using a small pillow to send reiki to my grand-daughter as I read. I won’t be particularly tuned in. That was for the past few days. Tonight, I can send energy while I read. I must, for my own mental, and physical well-being, practice drawing the line in the sand, and saying ‘Yes, I am priestess, and will send healing, but I must also maintain myself’. In other words, I’m of no use to anyone if I don’t care for myself.
This lesson in self-care has been a looooong time coming.
I saw a fat magpie, strut-waddling on the lawn of Vermont South Special School. They were an adult, with bright white and shiny black plumage. Their bum was doing an admirable Egyptian Walk (belly dance reference), or possibly a 3/4 up-shimmy, as they unhurriedly walked away from me.
I remark on this because it’s nesting season here in Australia for the magpies, and thus, it’s swooping season. Now, this one was very fat indeed, and on their own. So, either they are foraging for themselves, or foraging for themselves and a mate. If the latter, they haven’t yet been worn to slimness by having to provide for a whole family. There was no swooping, or running at me, so I can only presume their nest isn’t close by.
I wish you well on this cool, damp Spring day, fat magpie. May you find many worms, snails, and whatever else you eat, and be well able to leave the scraps humans throw out.
That encounter was on my way to the shops to buy corn chips. On the way back, just as I turned into my driveway, two ravens flew overhead, cawing. My ex-housemate, a follower of Odin, would have looked up and said: “What do you two, want?” referring to them as Hugin and Munin, the two crows who fly over the world, and act as Odin’s eyes.
I thought that, but I also have associations with the Morrigan.
Whichever the case, I bowed slightly, and muttered a ‘blessings be upon you’. You just never know when Odin is watching, or the Morrigan.
I like to think I’m fauna-aware, but this evening taught me that I’m not as clever as I think I am.
I sometimes think I’m the last person in my neighbourhood who actually hears the world. Everyone else has ear buds in, or is yapping on their phone. I hear lorikeets, and kookaburras, noisy mynas, indian mynas, and those carry-on cockatoos who fly around in huge gangs.
I know the distinct meows of several neighbourhood cats who are not mine, and can distinguish between the beaten up ginger down Hawthorn Road from the crazily-affectionate tabby in Dianne Court.
I sometimes wonder what our next generation of poets will write about: the heat of their cell phone as it heats up in their hand; the joy of choosing exactly the right ring tone; what they were scrolling through when their partner proposed to them?
So, I stride around, thinking I’m pretty darned retro, what with my active listening, and noticing the world. And then, an owl pellet drops on my coat as I’m walking home. I didn’t know there are owls in Vermont South. Logically, there must be some, because owls, although rarely seen, are in most urban and suburban settings.
Splat! The owl pellet dropped onto my coat, then rolled down, down, plop, to the ground. Still wet. Looked to be fur and bones from a mouse. Ick. On my coat. I was suddenly glad it was raining. (It didn’t rain enough. I wiped my coat down when I got home.)
I looked up. Nothing to be seen. The owl either blended perfectly with the tree above me, or had coughed up on the wing, and was silently gone into the coming night.
A quick google search and I’m on the Royal Botanic Gardens website, for suggestions as to which owl might have blessed my coat. A powerful owl certainly regurgitate bones and fur. A southern boobook maybe? A small owl though, and no mention of upchucking. Powerful owls are more common, though, so I’m assuming that one of those thoughtfully delivered mousie.
Despite me instantly wanting to wash my coat(too cold and damp to have it dry properly, so it will have to wait until Spring), I’m happy to know that my area can support owls. And that a whole life is going on around me that I know little about.
Off to do some owl research. Good night.
after reading e.e.cummings, for an Imaginary Garden With Real Toads poetry prompt: http://withrealtoads.blogspot.com/
Five in the morning,
with night fading out,
as the Spring sun pushes across the sky,
poking stars and planets alike
with insistent finger-rays.
The magpie’s eye opens,
retaining a hint of dream,
and she warbles in the day.
If Helios drives His chariot
rudely across the body of Nuit,
(for They are all one great pantheon in my mind)
then surely, He is drawn by birds,