Identity Crisis – Marisa Wikramanayake

I tried not to think of the circus.
I didn’t know whether to cross,
So I stood,
While everything furled.
And whirled.
And twirled around me,
In lights and signs, brazen, inviting.
Look south and it is a circus,
A Roman one – all roads lead to Oxford Street,
Anzac Parade changing names to Flinders and,
When Oxford proves still too much to handle, quietly merging with Bourke.
A handful is Oxford Street.
A handful of what I couldn’t, wouldn’t exactly recall to tell you
But something odd and awkward when I first stood,
In a booth
With cutouts that apparently led to all manner of “Hallelujahs” while determining yet another facet of me.
That clearly was not doing anything for me.
That at least was curiosity satisfied and that puzzle solved.
A pint full of beer as I stood
In a pub looking around at yuppies who
If they turned to watch
Would wonder why I was there and I would wonder why they noticed me first instead of their surroundings – a local that has been local for nearly a century.
Does no one notice what has always been there till it won’t be there anymore?
How does it feel to be ignored because of your constant presence?
And then an eyeful of students attempting to draw, capture, coerce the chaos of the circus down onto paper.
It must have been easier when there were horses
Instead of horsepower engines.
When the signs weren’t so many, when the traffic didn’t race by.
When the meaning of what this landscape was,
Wasn’t so layered or convoluted, so messy to untangle and portray.
Because it depends where you stand on Oxford Street – else you can’t tell anyone what it is.
And my alma mater here co-located suddenly away from where it should be,
Always choosing to be something new in the midst of something old.
That seems to be an odd habit.
Maybe one day the old will rub off on it and it will feel distinguished.
Or perhaps I will amount to something and herald its importance.
Oxford notwithstanding, everything on it is in the midst of an identity crisis.
Unless you are mad enough already when you walk down it.