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Friday, 9 October 2015

The case of Arthur: a narrative poem

westringia glabra - thriving
This spring is hotter than average. That’s really no news at all, given Adelaide’s renowned weather variability. And the Bureau of Meteorology said it would be the case. I just hope the tender new growth in my garden will not be as shocked as I am at temperatures in the 30s (Celsius) so early in the season. We have already had to start cooling the house with the evaporative system.

The other part of the BOM’s forecast was for wetter than average, but unfortunately they got that wrong. After a much lower rainfall in the winter just past, these hot days are beginning to use up our limited water supply. If the worst comes to the worst, we might even use the water we pay $1 million a day to produce in spite of having sufficient natural water available ever since the plant was opened two and a half years ago.

I’m working on doing more efficient watering this summer, using deep watering less often. I thought I was already doing that until I read about a Hills nursery and realised that ‘deep’ means the dripper system being on for many more hours than I had scheduled. Our water bill is never negligible, but my goal is to make the plants more drought-proof and use no more water than in the previous summers. Of course, I won’t know if I’ve achieved it until I get the bill at the end of the season…

Okay, enough worrying about possible futures. Right now I’m loving the vitality of the spring garden. Some of the plants I’ve been carefully nurturing for far too long are actually starting to thrive! I’m so happy with the westringias growing where nothing else copes that I’ve bought three more.

This month’s poem is a humorous narrative in blank verse. As usual, it has nothing to do with all that stuff you just read!

The Case of Arthur

The carousel slid bags and packs towards
a neatly dressed and bland-faced man. He claimed
a case with practised swing, then strode outside.
He caught a taxi home with rising hopes.

The man (his name was Arthur) took his time –
changed into trackies, brewed his fav’rite caf –
before he started on the joyous task
of sorting through the contents of the case.

A well-worn bathrobe Arthur thrust aside
to start the pile of items to be thrown.
The common stuff – holed socks and underwear
with sagged elastic – tossed, the out-pile grew.

But Arthur held his hopes in spite of these
poor specimens. He knew that treasure hides
itself in rags to mask the trail. He kept
his cool and checked each piece with measured pace.

Dress shoes, Van Heusen business shirt – all good
for keeping Arthur fitted out for work.
But wait! Inside the shirt was something firm.
He held his breath as wrappings fell away.

The prize! His searching years were done. He’d found
the willow-patterned plate for which he’d yearned.
His joy knew full expression:  Arthur sang
as he displayed the plate in pride of place.

His travel days were done, he told himself,
And gave the lucky suitcase to his niece.
But habits of longstanding keep their grip;
our Arthur missed the thrill of baggage claim.

So do not be surprised if, when you fly,
Your suitcase disappears without a trace.

Don’t say you haven’t been warned!

See you next time J

Claire Belberg


  1. I love it - though I must admit that I saw the ending coming! That does not diminish the poem in any way, of course. It just goes to illustrate my twisted thought patterns.
    It has been very dry here in MB too. As much as my back and other health issues have allowed I have managed to almost finish mowing our 5 acre estate. I usually attend to this in November, but the grass has dried quickly this season.

    1. I'm glad you enjoyed the poem, Trevor. It was a quirky idea I had when waiting for a delayed flight from Melbourne to Canberra a couple of years ago. Funnily enough, my luggage went missing on that flight! But Arthur didn't have it, as it turned out - it arrived, intact, 2 days later, just in time for me to leave Canberra :)


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