Death and Success

"I was walking along the other day thinking about death,' said Bob of The Yearlings as an introduction to a song. Good to know I'm not the only one that walks along thinking about death. Not a symptom of depression in this instance. Thinking about death is kind of like thinking about infinity, can't quite grasp it but it stretches the mind and can almost be fun.

I write this blog an hour before I fly out to Kalgoorlie for a funeral, so thinking about death has become acute again. The death in this instance is a woman who I first met 40 years ago in Kalgoorlie, the mother of a very dear friend of mine. Kalgoorlie and Death also gets me thinking of home - where is home when you've moved so many times and where would you be buried when you're not quite sure where home is ... or what it is. What is home? For now home is an emotion, home is a memory pressed into the belly and heart and mind. For now home is a friend and a visit to the past while acknowledging that time continues to pass.

The success part of this blog refers to my recent news that I was awarded an Arts SA grant to attend the Margo Lanagan writing retreat later this year. Wonderful news indeed. There's definitely a sense of confirmation of being a writer and making good decisions and being rewarded for hard work.

And speaking of success, I didn't get the mini opera written. Proved to be quite difficult but I did get a short story out of it "The Book of Poems" and sent it off to the Peter Cowan Short Story comp. Then I decided to rewrite the story in 250 words. Here's the result. (That bloody death again)

The Book of Poems
 
--> When I went to visit my father’s cottage it was a ruin. A tree grew in the fireplace and my feet got stuck in grey mud. I sat on a rock by the collapsed front door and cried.

It was late in the day when I opened the book of poems I’d brought with me. A mirror fell out; then a key, old fashioned and tied to a filthy rag; potatoes in a sack; a prayer book held together with sticky tape inscribed with my father’s name; the black and white photograph of him young and striking - if I didn’t know any better I’d say he was a brooding poet; his happy dog who raced across the field to chase cows; a procession of priests, doctors, and lawyers, none of whom my father trusted when he was alive. I waited for me to make my appearance but all I got was a tight heart filling up with rocks and crumbling cement.

Words bled into the colour of night when I closed the book of poems. The cold country air knew my grief perfectly and wrapped me up like a baby.

I’d like to say I had an epiphany about life and death before I went down the road to the White Cross where I got drunk on Guinness. But when I turned to face the ruin a final time there was only the tree, dark in the fireplace, and the cows in the field to echo my stillness.


That's it for now. Got a plane to catch.

Caroline x









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