Hibiscus petals shake
Cyclone memory free
Hear the forest
Green tree frogs
Sing like rain
By June Perkins
We drive past
two large churches
red slates with apple green
caravans with tin shed
a naked child
Now we stop.
We’re at Nellie’s house
full to the brim of
and as if she has read
our thoughts on what we have seen
‘These people await houses
I adopted three children …’
She takes us to visit
including her mother who is
She is calmness
21 November 1993
Reading through the journal entry accompanying this fragment I am struck by the the story of Nellie. We went with another family, the Tais, to meet her. Now I travel back in time and meet her at her front door. In my journal account she emerges as the backbone of her community. She is ‘calmness cadence circles.’ She cares for the sick, avoids bingo, loves fishing, and knows and loves her community.
She had just become a Baha’i and we were visiting her to see what kind of support she needed , and came home so impressed by her family and extended family. We discovered a true world citizen, in a tiny town on the so called ‘fringes of Australian society, ‘ and what’s more she could teach many about the abundance of human spirit, patience, generosity and forbearance.
I find myself wondering what became of the people we met on that trip as shortly after we moved and we never met them again. Yet, they are in my heart and I hope that their lives went well. Walgett, for me will always be somehow spoken through the spirit of Nellie.
(c) June Perkins
I could take a picture of the pink cyclamen
that I bought, because
it was on special at the supermarket
as Mother’s day had passed,
and show it to you;
so carefully placed in front of an open window, looking out
onto backyards, where
the ibis, cockatoo and bush turkeys play.
I could draw a picture and
you’d glance at the pink curtain above it;
rolled up and pegged, with
the white lace curtain showing
just a little.
This still life has more,
when you pan back and see
the cream bench top paint that is peeling away to reveal
a pink layer underneath.
This house we live in is old and was in the same family for generations
until someone began to buy the old houses side by side
one by one to rent them out.
The neighbours tell us the old man who once lived here was kind.
We still receive his mail and return to sender.
Has he returned to his sender.
The silver bowl next to the cyclamen has a few mandarins, but they
disappear so fast as my youngest eats them hour by hour
so if I want to capture a bowl full I must photograph it
in the first hours of the bring home of groceries
– today there are four mandarins.
I could take that picture
in just a few moments and avoid the uncertainty
of words and metaphors;
the artistic pain of creating an attempt at the depiction
of still life that underneath it has a layer
of moving life.
Or I could continue to dissect and hypothesise,
look for connections between still and moving life,
and somewhere in there find mindfulness
in a metaphor to extend the cyclamen petals into
the morning light of epiphany.
I layer my cyclamen still life
with poetry of memory
to see Nance’s window sill of cyclamens;
they might have been pink and maybe red.
Near her house was a Quaker Cottage
and inside the house was a visitor’s book
full of stories of city dwellers,
who had left Sydney to
recharge away from the movement of the city.
Seeking their still life.
For Phillip Hughes
No personal memories have I
only the memory of my son loving watching your games
He knows all your stats
and history as young Aussie cricketers tend to do.
On the day you passed the storms came suddenly
and hailstone the size of cricket balls
fell in the city that we lived.
I waited for my family to return
safely from abandoned cricket training
and mourned for your mother, father, brother and sister.
My memory of hospital waiting rooms
and intensive care still vivid after all these years.
My brother who loved sport
spent years in recovery
from head injuries
went from wheel chair to walking
from no speech to talking
I could sense what might lie ahead for your family
but your’s was a different fate.
The tributes for you flow
from cricketers the world over
young and old
England to India
captains to team mates
to junior cricketers
Rugby to AFL and Tennis
politicians and more.
Parents of young cricketers everywhere
feel your parents loss
and like them celebrate their children’s joy of cricket.
you were doing what you loved
and that it could never have been any other way.
The flag’s at half mast at Lords
while celebrations of character not just sporting ability are posted in your honour.
Who can tell why the good are suddenly taken.
So we #putoutourbats
say 63 never out
for he who plays in heaven’s eleven.
One day people might ask
‘What where you doing the day
Phillip Hughes went to the eternal cricket ground
in the sky?’
Many young cricketers everywhere might dedicate
their first 63’s to you.
(c) June Perkins
A special tribute to Phillip Hughes can be found HERE.
A day of rainbows
Everywhere I look
And put into a mini hospital
Made by caring children
Perched on glass above a kite
Children dancing in playgrounds
Climbing high to the rainbow filtered sky
Wearing hats of technicolour
Walls down narrow streets
Tagged and painted to chase
Away boredom with art
(c) June Perkins
A very happy mother’s day to all the Mums, Grandmums, Aunties and relatives who stand in as or support mums and single Dads who do the same, may you be appreciated today and always. This was written especially for my mum.
I was a well groomed young lady because my mother always made it so.
She stressed ironed clothes, well brushed hair, and the best selection of hand-me-downs and St Vincent Wear, with the occasional new bargain thrown in.
Early photo albums always show her well dressed, but not conventionally so.
Sometimes she’s in saris, other times she’s in mini dresses with bee-hive hair.
Sometimes she’s in a grass skirt with a bikini top (because it’s Australia) ready for national dress events.
Make-up carefully applied, long lashes, now she looks like a Supreme.
Later there are leopard print clothes and bright vibrant purples and blues.
She’s usually slim, sometimes a little well- rounded, but only for a short time, then she’s slim again.
She moves (on a budget) with the times.
She moves with new geographies, Australia, not Papua New Guinea now.
She was generous with everything, including my time.
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