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Monday, 1 October 2012

Waiting, watching

Native hibiscus (alyogyne)
It’s a wonderful thing that the spring-flowering plants don’t change their minds like the weather. Can you imagine if all the flowers of camellia, wisteria, flowering fruits, and Australian native plants like the pictured alyogyne, westringia, prostanthera, etcetera opened on the sunny days and hid on the cloudy ones? Those would be particularly dismal days. But the flowers, having made their choice to bloom, go boldly onward.

These changeable days are for living as much as any other day, but they also seem to say, ‘Wait and watch! Summer is coming.’ The ‘stream of consciousness’ poem below is not about spring but it plays with the same idea, as the name suggests.

Waiting, watching
Sun bright
on my paper, pen shadowed
in sharp relief.
            DON'T WALK
Man with sunglasses waiting
at traffic lights, craning
to see the sign,
Gleaming silver cars stop.
towards stunted plants in terracotta
brown-tipped leaves sparse
trapped, collecting fumes
memorial to a million passing cars.
Nature inserted at strategic points.
            DON'T WALK
I chose this place
sitting in the sun, watching.
Eating quiche and salad with a view
justifies spying,
plate glass window my screen
between the world walking by
and my curiosity
Old man totters
jaywalking up the road,
just a few steps closer to the post office,
while drivers wait,
            DON'T WALK
Sun intensifies through glass,
melts the chocolate waiting for me
on the saucer of vienna coffee.
I eat sporadically,
write quickly to capture
images, and snatches of thought they inspire.
Lettuce and balsamic vinegar
      whatever happened to iceberg and vinaigrette?
Wilted image, names without lyric
now we have rocket
                                                   mignonette but no crunch.
A shopper strides past my window, staring in,
the watcher watched
But I was eating, not writing,
wrestling to fork leaves with no crunch.
            DON'T WALK
My mouth waters, waiting as
food falls from my fork, splattering into balsamic puddle,
soggy, tangy carrot
browned off with vinegar.
And the quiche, enticing,
Young legs in black stockings,
two girls saunter in unison,
tartan skirts short-changed
like their hours of schooling
this winter's day.
            DON'T WALK
I watch from the corner of my eye;
'uniforms' but
not the same shape
not unformed
not anonymous
my daughters' peers.
Ah, there's the bank's security man
on his lunch break,
sees me
knows me?
Does familiarity compromise integrity?
            DON'T WALK
I remember.
I remember this place
this piece of ground
used to be Penno's Hardware,
boots and wheelbarrows,
meet your neighbours on Saturday morning.
Now a coffee shop changing
ownership as regularly
as the traffic lights its windows frame.
            DON'T WALK
to drink that waiting coffee.
Sure enough, the chocolate
has melted onto the sun-warmed spoon,
wasted on the paper doily.
I lick the spoon,
lick the inside rim of the latte glass,
wasting nothing;
wasting no memories,
holding them in the sun,
tasting them again
more satisfying than coffee and chocolate.
Coffee gone.
Chocolate eaten.
Fingers licked.
Warm in the sun
Lights change, cars stop, people cross.
I watch
            DON'T WALK
I wait to capture time.

Until next week…
Claire Belberg

1 comment:

  1. I've always loved this one, Claire. I can't pretend to always get where you're going with your poems, but this one is so warm and accessible. Good to read it again.


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