My friends in the North have been battered and bruised by the elements once again – but survived. Yes, Australia is a dangerous and terrible place – it’s also beautiful and special, especially the Northern Territory. Today I have a couple of poems for you written as part of a longer series about life in a particular Northern town.
Up there, in thick black clouds
Beyond the fat moon, far above the tree tops
the storm gathers, growls
Clashing noises from the Gods
rumble and thunder across the patient night sky.
Winds rush up streets
slamming doors – open and shut
rattling vases, knocking down pictures.
A sudden and vicious gust.
Before the rain whips in
hard and vertical
marching in a line up and down streets
first on one roof and then another
precisely covering each suburb
of this hot little city.
A swift-savage downpour.
Crashing on iron roofs
filling swimming pools
washing possums, dogs, cats
from their resting places in trees, gardens, parks
Scattering bats across the clouded skies.
wake their mothers,
who walk the night
fill bottles, offer a breast, change nappies
Sooth unsettled children, startled babies.
Then sit on bamboo chairs on elevated verandahs
Alone, to watch the night
The wondrous storm
taking in the cool of the air
deep into their lungs, their pores
feel their being change, becoming
part of the confluence of nature
part of the storm
pulled into its current.
Faces cleansed with rain
nostrils filling with freshly released perfumes
bodies bathed in breezes
Calmed by the rain.
Spirits soothed by the storm.
A mother’s breath exhales, and her home eases.
sigh and settle back to a dreamless sleep.
Men shuffle down passages
Feel the change in the air
visit the fridge
stretch and scratch, snuffle and snort
returning to bed for a restful sleep – a deep slumber
before the day arrives to send them back to work.
stand abutting their verandah railings
flesh to naked flesh
rain splashing skin
Looking into the night
the arcs of light across the sky
the shadows of cloud across the moon.
Nothing moves except the sky.
No sound except the thunder.
the storm moves away
rumbles mumbling out to sea
lightning now flashing feebly
over the black-blue water
A spent storm
Now all still over this northern most city.
Still dark now
People waking, emerging from dreams
slip from ruffled beds, disentangle from sleeping partners.
Garbage trucks begin their guttural rumbling trek through
a snoozing suburb.
sun fingering in through dawn-clouds
Streaky bacon sky.
Alarm clocks shrill
clock radios spring into life
walkers, runners, riders invade the streets
silently pounding, arms swinging, regular breathing
swimmers plough up and down backyard pools
The day begins.
the flat blue horizon
Storm clouds roll away across the heavens
leaving the suburb coolly sighing in the moments
before the sun bursts upon them
firing up the day
firing up the week
firing up the temperature
so that by the time people step
from their morning showers
before they can even dry the water from their bodies
sweat is rolling down their skin.
The morning smells sweet
clear, crisp, lighter than the night
velvet blue-black smells of the night.
Inhale the refreshed gardens
the flowers releasing cleansing perfumes
filling the nostrils of the waking streets.
Later, children strolling
spilling from cars
will breath in this morning air
smile and be revived for the week’s work
All – children, workers, mothers, babies, students, unemployed –
as they find their way in the world today
will be buoyed by the night storm
the fresh smells of their suburb
the bright blue of the sky
and go happily about their business today.
But now dreams are scattered with the early morning light
lost, taken with the dispersing clouds
only snatches left,
disturbing tendrils to bother and mystify throughout a day
busy with the needs of work, of other people.
Ah, to sleep the extra five minutes
to save the lost dream
the door to the soul, to dark wishes and desires
the book of ideas and inspirations
the path to the future (Images from Private Collection & Google Images)