Currawong Dreaming

One of the joys of not driving, as I have not been these last ten days, is sitting out on the balcony watching the evening redness fading in the west . . . well, that was then. Next thing I'm seeing this tall spindly guy dressed like an undertaker without his jacket waving both arms outrageously on the other side of the road opposite the Waverley Court and Police Station. I go up to the intersection at Birrell Street and when I'm sure there's no vacant cabs coming towards me or in the rearview mirror turn around and go back for him. His face is bent the wrong way around the mouth and his head like a football with the air leaked out of it but he's non-threatening, raving in fact, he's been drinking with the old guys in the Robin Hood and then up to the court 'for entertainment' only to find that neither of his two favourite blonde magistrates is presiding today so he was going to go to the Coach & Horses in Randwick to have a few more drinks. Three in the afternoon or a bit after. Hot. He appreciates the air-con. My local, he observes. After a pause. Eight generations. You have a genealogy that long here? I ask incredulously. What are you? he comes back with. And then has a good look at me. Oh, I see. An actor. It turns out we've both been stage managers in the theatre so that's alright. The Pet Shop Boys are playing, real low, but he hears the song. I love this fucking song! Can I turn it up? More? More? He could and he did. I've got the brains / You've got the looks / Let's make / lotsa money blasting out all down the somnolent streets of Bronte with their nursing homes where superannuated poets live out their long exile from the word. They're genius! I'm not gay by the way but they're just . . . fucking genius. Can I turn it up a bit more? It's three days of this kind of thing before I get back to the balcony and by then whatever the currawongs were up to has passed, instead it's a crow with the crust of a sandwich that it gurgles over on a branch in the gum tree out front. While a timorous soldier bird contemplates the crumbs from further up the leafy end. I can remember one (currawong) perched like a black flag on the steeple tip on the horizon while two others, one with a raggedy tail, sang and chased, chased and sang, athletically and operatically, one almost skewering me in the forehead with its beak as I looked out on a swoop and pursuit past the building. Attended by vengeful, not timorous, soldier birds. As if I could ever work out anyway what it was they were up to. Ornithology is for the birds. Then a sacred ibis passes white and black on the powder blue sky. All the way from the Pleistocene to ancient Egypt to now. Or whatever. Thoth's bird. It brings the gift of forgetting. Forgetting in words.


1 comment:

Elisabeth said...

For a minute there I thought 'this tall spindly guy dressed like an undertaker without his jacket' was the bird in the picture or a metaphor perhaps for both, bird and man.

What an exquisite piece of writing here, Martin. The places you take us, the details you offer, the inner monologue, all mesmerising. Thanks