a series of short songs about small scenes

19 October 2008

Just before I left Sydney I was having coffee with J, and I said, I felt like my life right now could be a series of short spoken songs.  Small scenes that have a certain musicality about them,but no tune.

Here they are.  More because I need to start writing again than because they will be of particular interest for anyone.

:: a short song about Glebe Point Road on a July afternoon

I have a new haircut and the flu.  As I walked up here a passing woman said, of my scarf and dress, ‘great colours, well done’ and I was absurdly pleased.  The light is like honey.  We have coffee and talk desultory thoughts.  There are World Youth Day pilgrims passing in occasional bunches.  J has to leave, she has been avoiding her work today.  As I walk home, I pass the one-legged shouting man who haunts this street.  For once, he doesn’t call me a faaarrking caaarrrrnt, nor lash out with his crutch.  Perhaps he knows I’m leaving.  Perhaps his demons are quieter today.

:: a short song about reggae

I catch a taxi home from the airport, the last time it will be home.  I am quiet and tired and sad. It is too hard to explain this to the driver.  He chats on his mobile phone.  Then the radio says, ‘this song is for the sad lady in the cab going home to Glebe for the last time, and for my good friend Taro, who is driving tonight’, and it plays a reggae song I haven’t heard before but like very much, and I tell Taro so and thank him for trying to cheer me up.  I don’t have enough to tip and this is absurdly upsetting even though the gesture wasn’t about money anyway.

:: a short song about removalists

In the morning the house is itself, at 12pm a maze of boxes, and at 3pm, empty.  Three wiry men heft boxes and furniture as if they are feather pillows.  One of them talks at length about the house they packed earlier, where they’d been given muffins.  I think he wants food from me, but I am not sure.  Yet another moment that it not in the etiquette book: ‘Removalists, treatment and refreshment thereof’.  When they have gone, I walk from room to room.  There are echoes that weren’t here before.  Ghosts of furniture and pictures imprint the carpet and shade the walls.  I sit on a milk crate in the middle of the room and wait for it to get dark.  I read and listen to the sounds outside, which are the same as they always were and always will be, after I am gone.

:: a short song about going

It doesn’t feel right, Sydney, to be sneaking away from you in the dawn, before you’re awake properly.  As if you and I were a one-night stand, not an 8 year thing.  Waiting alone at red lights. Watching with a slight detachment the streets and signs sliding by .  Bridge Rd, Mitchell St, bakery, cafe, fig trees, swimming pool steaming slightly, pub with painted ceiling, church, terraces, buses, warehouses, airport.

When I came to Sydney it was dawn too.  I sat on a bus all night and it drove over the bridge as the sun came up.  I had two bags of clothes and a box of books, and I put them all in a locker at Central Station.  I washed my face and changed under the blue lights in the ladies toilets and went off up George St to the first day of my new job.  The first day of Sydney and me.  We didn’t turn out as I thought, but then I didn’t either.

It is as if the water will close over my head, leaving no ripples to say I was there.

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3 Responses to “a series of short songs about small scenes”

  1. Michelle said

    These little songs are so beautiful. Thank you for sharing them.

  2. LynS said

    Ali

    Good to have you writing again

  3. Sally said

    Sweet, funny and poignant. What a thoughtful taxi driver. And who has time to make muffins when they’re moving house?

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