I read inspirational messages.
Poets re-drawing maps in vibrant colours, winning colours, winning poets.
The direction is up. Eyes to the sky. Ruin flows from them, cleverly.
I read from trees, bare branches’ fingers pointing in every direction say:
“I am here now, in the centre of the universe.” Immanent majesty, location incarnate, satisfied wood, defenceless lumber, friendly critic offering shade, quiet and steadfast roots.
And then I read what I have written: Crossword hints, acrostic atrocities of assonance, loosely punctuated rafts of flotsam on a river well navigated by giants, the wisdom on Dixie cups and bottle tops lain flat and wet at the bottom of a birthday party rubbish bin, at best, the cookie crumbs and dandelions found pressed in an old copy of Slaughterhouse 5, picked from a stack on corner (a sign “Free boox” written in crayon above them).
In summary, a very true story:
Riding in traffic on my morning commute, between Haberfield and Five Dock, I bump up a short tight hill to a light. I know time, and I know lights, so I punch a bit extra to try to keep this light sweet. But there’s not much in there. I’ve been giving all week and this well looks dry. But barely standing, this 100 or maybe 200 year old guy – he might have been Greek, or maybe Italian- just yells out “GO! GO!” cheering me on. And not like the disen-y-gen-ous über-ironic cheering I usually get. This guy was cheering, for me. For me. He was cheering for me.
With two words, his life story poured into me. His humanity and optimism, his energy, vitality given to me. And I lifted. I flew. He dies. I fly to see another day. He uses nothing but his last-moments-seeing-extraordinary-things-ever to show me what I have, what I will have, what he has known, and where he will go. For a moment I thought back to him “GO! GO!”, but it seemed so inappropriate, almost cruel. And so I thought of looking deeply into his eyes. I thought of knowing him, knowing where he is now, his path here. I wanted him to pass me him on. Then it occurred to me; he had passed me that baton. I did have it.
It took seventeen or twenty seconds more for me to fully understand all he had told. And then a peloton of tears each bursting from my eyes with his energy “GO! GO!” – not ernest or ironic, but urgent and joyful, raced in my slipstream.
Him, I left on the other side of a red light. I’d squeaked through on amber. I was still going. I am still going. I am still in the race, in the present with trees. What I drop, a raft of flotsam, pressed flowers in a book, hints, atrocities and party rubbish, what I drop stay with him. They stay “then”, and pile on like a wreath, more history to push, to pressurise the past, to make full, rolling-full the pages.