I’m back in Melbourne for a fleeting visit, just long enough to plant my feet in the familiar sand of Port Phillip Bay, and dunk myself in waters bordered by bathing boxes.
It has been hot. Egg-baking-on-pavement hot.
But today there is an Irish mist, the temperature has dropped, and I’m donning scarves and warming my hands on my teacup.
That’s my Melbourne.
Never assume you know her. Never get complacent!
My Sydney stay came to a poetic end. To say gracias to those who made my work there possible, I lead a poetry walk along the Rose Bay foreshore. Paperbarks, sandstone and the harbour’s depths inspired me to reinvent the protagonist of my next book, so I dreamed an hour of rhythm and rhyme, and offered it to the beaches and sky in gratitude.
We were pilgrims walking a camino – joining for a verse and separating to play I Spy, alone to make a wish and united to strew the water with flowers. We made our own bay of roses!
It was a camino of gratitude, and a chance to salute a remarkable piece of land, with its history of plenty and pain, beauty and loss. Rather like all camino roads…
And this poem, this beloved poem, was at the Rose Bay camino’s heart.
Just as it stays at my heart. Every day.
by Rainer Maria Rilke
If the angel
deigns to come
it will be because
you have convinced
her not by tears
but by your humble
resolve to be always
beginning: to be a
And now, in this brief Melbourne hiatus, I’m prepping for Perth, Albany and Denmark, and their festivals. I’m going back for a celebration of words, writers and the wild west.
Perth was where it began for me.
I was born there, on the edge of the Indian Ocean, where the sun waves a final salute before it drops off the edge of the world. Wherever I walk, if I see a body of water, I expect the sun to dive into it at day’s end, leaving a trail of fire glistening on waves.
Sunrises over water still seem strange to me, as though the world has upended itself. Sunsets without oceans seem wasted – they can’t admire their reflected glory.
Considering that my early years were spent in the red desert of W.A.’s Gascoyne, it’s ironic that water has come to be so significant to me. Like this country I love, I am all duality and contradiction.
But aren’t we all, those of us who love this land with its wind-etched rocks, its salt-sculpted cliffs and its blasted desert centre? We live on the edges and dream of the heart. We cling to the wet and sing of the dry. We are flood and fire, drought and drowning.
And we are home, even if we don’t understand its ways. We come home over and over, for it’s in the not-understanding that we live fully. For me, anyway. That’s where mystery lies, and mystery is full of possibility.
Mystery is for beginners. For fools and children. Mystery is humility and softness.
Certainty is hard and unforgiving. Perilous.
Give me the mysteries of this ancient island, with its wide skies that send messages of love in all languages – if we just remember to look for them.
If you are able to come along to any of my sessions at the WA Festivals, please stay and say hello afterwards. They are all listed on the EVENTS AND MEDIA page, up there on the top of the blog. In particular, my monologue performance on Friday morning means a great deal – I last performed at the Dolphin Theatre when I was a Uni student, back in…well…another lifetime!
May your days be spent under a loving sky…