dust

b6063d04ce19f5ec393e07619b8689ff

time ticks and time tocks, and the flow of the time river has swept me of course to where i am at this moment, on a saturday morning, sitting at a wooden table in front of a window. i am thinking about dust. april’s existential spring clean has settled and integrated, and now i preoccupy myself with the task of physically dusting myself, my luggage and my things off and packing it all up once again, so i can go off wandering.

while i travel to europe sealed into a metal time machine in dusty air-conditioned comfort, boxes of my things will wind their way overland to santiago, with the rejects taking up residence under a friends’ house here in brisbane while i am gone. these “things” equate to nine plastic tubs and two paintings. and as i write this, i visualise those nine tubs stacked in the garage, and in a moment of intelligent clarity their thingness reveals the ridiculousness of attachment to me. like a shonky boyfriend, i am happy to turn my back on them. i honestly do not care if i ever see them again. this is what happiness feels like on the cusp of travel.

of all the routines, and the routines of routines, this is the one i love most. it is where i take stock, clean up, chuck out and check out. it is where i dive headfirst into the departure memory toolkit, which only ever contains the things that really matter and has absolutely nothing to do with the nine plastic tubs. in this way, travel situates the mundane where it belongs, that is, in the rearview mirror, while the trip ahead beckons seductively to me from around the corner.

as if to remind me that there are some things i just might miss, outside the window i see the deliciously sharp crispness of the late brisbane autumn setting the eucalyptus trees on fire, while a lone butcher bird embarks on a crazy monologue in a tree nearby, its’ endearing song pulsing towards me through the window. the saturday markets across the street are pumping in tune with the butcher bird and a playful breeze reaches in and tickles me through the window, begging me to go outside, into that chilly warm winter feeling.

more than the return to spain and everything and everyone there, i desire movement. so i walk. every day now, i wake up and i walk and i walk and i walk, and when i walk i am once more on the camino of not knowing where i will end up or who i will walk with…………………………………………………………………………..

………………………………there is an old woman who lives on minni lane, just around the corner. truth be told, she is never too far away. she lives amongst the menagerie of beings and places and feelings that i wander past with my feet. today i see her during that precious early morning hour, my favourite hour, when there are still stars in the sky and the trees are beginning to come alive, swaying imperceptibly to the sounds of waking creatures. at this magical hour, i am still yawning, and i am coming to under a fresh sky with the world moving around me. my feet carry me along and as i walk i have to acknowledge that my feet are so much wiser than i. they know exactly what to do. what medicine to prescribe.

today, as i walk, the old woman appears to me standing by the kitchen window of her house. i have never seen her quite like this before. as i watch, she stands there frozen, immersed in a naked, simple moment. she is looking out at that mysterious horizon that has eluded her all these years, despite her constant searching. with eyes that have crinkled in laughter, much pleasure and sometimes pain ~with my eyes~ she scans that mysterious line that divides the sky from the earth before succumbing to visual gravity and tracing the outline of her arms down towards the 90 year old hands that have hung faithfully by her side all these years, helping her tell stories, helping her to touch the world beyond her skin and to be touched by it………continuing down even further, she focuses finally on wrinkled and spindly fingers poking out from under her sleeves and dressed in tissue paper skin. darling, loyal fingers they are, and she allows herself to be distracted from that horizon for a moment while she observes the way they grasp the edge of the counter. it is as if they are holding on for dear life. and she is. holding on for dear life. unlike the rest of her body, these fingers are still strong enough to resist the insistent pull of that which creates the dust that was once something else.  still, she cannot help but notice the flesh retreating inwards, away from the enforced boundaries of skin, as if the inner horizon were the only place left to go. life is short.

then, light years away, in another part of the mind, a telephone rings. it is a master’s student i am working with. she is telling me matter-of-factly that yesterday the doctors diagnosed her with liver and pancreatic cancer. she doesn’t think she is going to be able to finish out the semester. tick tock tick tock. the old woman’s eyes turn away from the horizon once more and look across time to focus on me again. her eyes are boring down into my very guts. “i told you”, she says, “life is short, even for me”.

moving away from the window, the crone wanders slowly out of the kitchen, and as she walks, every step echoes up through her body like orgasmic electric after shocks. her footsteps remind her that her body is still alive, that she still moves and breathes in the world. in a parallel universe, i also feel my body moving, always in the same direction, always towards her.

today she shows me parts of her house that i have never seen before. she lives in a white house with plastic covered furniture and a dining room table that is perpetually set with the things her mother left her. she circles the table, drawing outlines of what she sees with her fingers. no dust here, she observes with some satisfaction. she has managed to keep things clean. dust free. there are exuberantly gleaming plates kept in check by shining silver, and bohemia crystal glasses glittering atop white linen. these objects pose proudly on the table, boasting an energetic immortality to the surrounding slow decay, which lazily looks on, not without significant envy. dust free, these objects continue to host the memories of past times, the now barely audible echoes of gatherings, and the thought traces of the people who once sat there, but who now live in the dust that floats in on the winter sunlight streaming through the windows 

 

 

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