Summer

It was very warm in Sydney today – almost a February day – of high humidity and temperature. A blast of hot air from the north-west as I walked back to my car, reminded me of summers as a child. Following is a poem of the summer journeys we would take as a family. Obvious is the story of the travels themselves, but in the looking back, associations are made in memories of the years in between which, like life itself, weaves persistently through memory, revealing new shoots from old roots…..

 

The Road Up North

 

Before the freeway’s mindless blur

It was mile after mile of two-lane

Black bitumen – fourteen hours of vinyl

Seats sticking to the back of your legs

In the sweltering, short-straw

Confines in the front

Between Mum and Dad.

The highway mile markers were

A watched pot counting down

To Taree, Kempsey, Coffs, Ballina

Then the border and, like a promise

That never pays,

The interminable hours through

The Gold Coast and on

To Auntie Myrtle’s place in Brisbane.

 

(There’ve been a few such promises, like

The loved-one who trampled trust

One too many times but asked once more;

Once more proved to be higher pain.)

 

Once or twice we’d go the inland route

But pre air-con and with all

The windows down, it was a day

In the tumble dryer.

Joy brought a cold drink

And a toilet break, the car slewing

Off the road, scything through

The loose gravel like an icebreaker

Then up onto the silent concrete

Pad of the servo.

When the engine turned off, your

Mind went searching for sound

To find the hum-roar-hum

Of cars passing on the highway.

 

(Sometimes, silence is the most faithful

Friend, whose presence requires nothing,

Whose love, though forceless, yields

Unaccusing rest and constancy.)

 

We all stared, like it was our first

Waking until, slowly, memory

Stirred, the girls shuffled

To the toilet, Dad popped the bonnet

And the boys slipped through

The plastic-strip curtain to hunt

For simple pleasures.

 

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