Oh, all right, just a peek, now and then

When you are born you should be presented with a 70-year-diary, every day already filled in, a bright red ribbon tied around the cover. Then, as you work your way through life, you could constantly check where you were up to and what lay ahead. Or perhaps it would be best to leave it closed, the ribbon left done up.

Walk a life in my shoes

These are not the feet

that once, brown and bare,

ran on soft beach sand,

and climbed old trees.

These are not the feet

that, laced into football boots

or tennis shoes, ran and ran

on muddy fields and wooden courts.

These are not the feet

that, encased in rubber boots

or leather ones, covered miles

on field trips, or in sheep paddocks.

These are not the feet

that, enclosed in shiny black shoes,

walked the halls of power,

the lecture rooms of academia.

No, these are the feet

of an old man.

Eye of the storm

My childhood home

had a “lounge room”,

a room in the centre of the house

almost never used, but with the best furniture,

rarely sat upon, the piano,

not played, fallen silent,

since my grandfather died,

too young, too young,

and the record player.

It was, in theory, the place

where important visitors could

be taken. But most of our

visitors were unimportant, friends,

who were happy sitting in the kitchen.

The Minister of our church

might have qualified in importance,

I suppose,

but he rarely if ever came.

So it was a quiet room,

a dark room with no window,

a neat room with no mess,

no detritus of living.

It was in the very centre

of the house, surrounded

by rooms full of activity and noise –

kitchen, bathroom, bedrooms, laundry,

television room, dining room.

Every house needs a quiet, still, centre,

a place for reflection.

So does every human being.

Time’s Up

Life is like an exam in which you struggle to write as much as possible, pack as much into each answer as possible, until the moment when the teacher says “Time’s Up”, and you stop, reluctantly, seeing, on the exam paper, gaps where you could have, should have, said more, places where, gulp, you have expressed something badly, or just plain wrongly, places where you know, just know, if you had a little more time, you could have impressed the examiner with your brilliance. But the clock has stopped, and all you can do is hand in your paper at the teacher’s desk before exiting with the crowd. If only you could have written faster.