Where journeys begin and end

By Vita Forest

 

This morning at the oval

I walked by lanky legged men in white flannels

Standing about on the grass

And a woman pushing a pram around the white picket perimeter

And a troupe of elderly Chinese

Limbering up

Following the leader in two lines

Dancing to the tune of a small tinny speaker

While their handbags and shopping hung on the fence

On hooks they had brought

especially for that purpose

And as I passed the playground

I noticed the gates were topped with a pair of

Smiling crocodiles

Beaming down at the squealing children

 

And as I stood on one leg in the yoga class

trying to keep my balance

While trains thundered beneath us

The teacher boasted how when tested

The results said she must be a mere girl of twenty

 

While later on the train

A mere girl of twenty

Addressed the whole carriage with her tale of

Domestic violence, pregnancy and homelessness

And I emptied my pockets into her open hand

And thought that in another life

She could be a great orator

And I hope that life is yet to come

 

And at Central I sat on an empty railway platform

and drew the trains

as the wires above me

drew their own squiggles against the clouds

And later we met under the archway of rainbow balloons

Heralding Mardi Gras

Like the rainbow flags that draped shoulders and the rainbow socks

on rainbow legs and rainbow hats and rainbow cat ears

resting over pink hair and glitter eye lashes

Or perhaps just over a t-shirt reading

Fearless

 

We met beneath the rainbow

to see the world through others’ eyes

Through their palettes and pens and pencils

That they used

Hunched behind a cup of tea

Or standing in front of a statue

Or a stain-glass window

Or beneath the curved roof over the place

Where journeys begin and end

 

And in the end

Who’s to really know?

If the train was really there

If the door was really open

If he really held her hand

But it looks real enough for now.

From the balcony

By Vita Forest

In the early morning

There are joggers and cyclists

Dark silhouettes against the pearly sky

And the band of bootcampers

Swinging bells and balls

As they squat and straighten

On the soft green grass

 

I sit sipping tea

As they walk beneath the balcony

We’ve come to show you their hair,

the mother says to the white-haired neighbour watching the sea

And the girls turn obligingly to show

the twisted plaits

That start at their temples

And ring their skulls

Like crowns

 

The father in the singlet shepherds his kids across the carpark

She, riding a tiny white horse

Rolling on plastic wheels that grind on the asphalt

He, a blue grown-up scooter that

glides smooth with every press of his foot

while a car waits and lets them pass

engine idling

 

The black-clad teenager pulls in below

beneath the long flickering fingers of the pine

Sits a moment

Not yet time to start his shift

At the restaurant across the way

Just time enough to listen to one more song

As the engine ticks and cools

 

View from the bridge

By Vita Forest

Sepia scene

holding Max’s hand as he kicked along

in bright red raincoat

exclaiming at trains and pylons and ferries and puddles

everything washed new and clean and bright

Little fireman

out for a stroll in the rain

Film footage

sweeping across the span by leaps and bounds

rehearsing dance steps

barefoot exhilaration

A swan escaped from the lake

free enough to feel that

Anything was possible

Zoom into frame

The descent on the narrow staircase

Singing show tunes and

Finding that pair of abandoned heels

(Cinderella realising she may as well lose

Two if she was letting go of one)

Trying on those glass slippers and discovering

they were just my size

Walking through city streets

In someone else’s shoes

The acorn

By Vita Forest

On that first day

In the gardens of the Imperial Palace

(In the part that you can visit

If you are ordinary

And not royal)

Lucy found an acorn on the pathway

Gleaming in the rain

We looked around but could not see

Totoro

Perhaps he was atop one of the lush leafy trees

That dripped rain onto the soft grass

and the beds of thickly-planted iris

Perhaps he still had his wide black umbrella

And did not need our smaller paler shelters

Translucent as raindrops

Forest sprite

By Vita Forest

One day,

While focusing on where

I placed my feet

Amongst the rough uneven rocks

And crawling roots of ancient cherry trees

On the slopes of the Kumano Kodo,

I heard behind me the sound of a

Strider

Fast approaching

Heels ringing on stone.

I glanced behind me

And met

The eyes of a small boy

Who blinked and passed me by

Without a word

Continuing on at the same fast clip

He favoured,

Up around the corner and

Sailing out of sight

Amongst the trees

While I continued slow and crablike

Testing the moss between the rocks

With my pole and two-pronged stick

Finding the firmest way.

And I wondered

Had I imagined him?

This small child

improbably alone

Was he a forest sprite?

floating through the forest

with such confidence?

But later

At a lookout

I saw him again

Swinging his legs

as he munched on a snack

and looked out

At the mountains that receded

in layers

Far into the distance

He sat apart from the

weary walkers resting beneath a shelter

He sat and ate and looked

and waited

His face splitting into a grin

When the rest of his family

Finally

Caught up.

He had proven his point

He was as fast

As the wind.

Stretching rainbows

By Vita Forest

Sitting under hats around the table

Blindingly silver in the sunlight

Waiting for the ripening buds of leaves

to burst into green shade

Two ten year-old girls creep closer

Slatted against tree trunks

Pressing their grins into calloused bark

Stifling laughter

Remembering them at six, at seven

When their mouths held gaps and Tahlia astonished

with her description

of a dog’s soft wet nose

And their two heads bent over a stretch of rainbow

Building waves of red and yellow and green

When their hair was longer

And their legs were shorter