She should be

By Vita Forest

You sat grim-faced in the sunshine

Facing away from the view.

You gave updates on

Your friend’s illness,

Her husband’s wavering mind,

Their fragile son,

Their absent daughter.

 

Your voice rose in indignation

Your neighbour’s arthritis,

The manager’s incompetence,

The man who talks too loud,

The woman who is so fussy,

The friend who is always stopping by

Right on dinner.

 

Look at the boats on the river

The white triangles of the sails – see how they shine!

Sammie turning cartwheels on the grass

The dog snuffling at our feet.

 

Rosa says she couldn’t go away, you say

Too many bookings to look after the grandkids

Couldn’t possibly manage it,

Couldn’t possibly.

 

She could just say No!

Does she even want to go?

 

And Thea in that big house

can’t manage

will have to sell.

If she isn’t stressed now

She should be.

 

But you are healthy and Rosa too

and Rosa’s husband

You can still do what you like.

 

Yes my foot is better

Yes I saw the sails

And the rain has stopped falling, But

Did you know?  Did I tell you?

Your childhood friend

That laughing boy

Dead.  Dead now.

Terribly sad.

Alcohol.  Drugs.  Divorce.  Hadn’t seen his kids in

Years.

Moved back in with his Mum – no friends

Dead.

 

No I hadn’t heard.

A glint of triumph

I am silenced remembering that freckled boy.

 

Then Sammie comes and leans against me

slings her arm across my shoulder

blows a butterfly-kiss on my earlobe

and the sails still shine in the sun

and the wind breathes its warm breath on my cheek.

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Accentuate the positive

By Vita Forest

Two ways of looking

Two ways of looking

The problem with being involved with any high profile activity is that there are dramas.  As Max said to me, “Whenever you are involved with a drama there is drama.”

Yes, this is even true in the smaller microcosm of a school.  All parties are emotionally invested and this sometimes leads to conflict.  Even with eleven year olds.

So, my colleague and friend Minna and I, have started rehearsals for one of the senior dance groups.  The one that the kids had to audition for.  The one that may be part of a big public performance on an iconic stage.  The one with the prestige.

It’s a sought after gig, but attracts children and parents (and teachers!) with strong ideas.

After coming up with a concept that fits the designated theme, building a story line, starting on some choreography, costume ideas and characters, we have had two rehearsals for our dance-theatre piece.  We were feeling very positive, we thought it was going well.   While a boy with a relatively small part became a scene-stealer, with his risk-taking, enthusiasm and playfulness, a more seasoned performer (she was in it last year) withdrew into herself, and simply went through the motions.  We didn’t think much of it, until yesterday, when the girl’s mother rang the principal of the school to complain…

Apparently there have been tears – there has not been enough dancing – she doesn’t like it!  (This is Week 2 people…)  Luckily our principal supported us, we are lucky that way.  Of course, this has sapped our energy and made us throw up our hands in outrage.  (How dare she be so entitled?  How dare her mother let her be such a diva?  Doesn’t she know about teamwork, patience, resilience?)  This comes after last year drama when a mother tried to redesign my costumes to meet her ten year old son’s fashion needs…  (I said thanks, but no thanks.  He ended up leaving the group and we went on without him).

But after having an internal hissy fit, and a few choice words with Minna, I took a deep breath and thought of some other things…  our satisfaction and excitement about our story, our characters, our music choice.  And remembered the enthusiasm and delight of most of the dancers in the group.  I remembered the many unsolicited “Thank yous” from a lot of the kids, how a bunch of them helped us by getting out equipment unprompted.  I thought of the smiles on their faces, the energy that they have put into these very early rehearsals when it can be so easy to be inhibited and stand-offish.

And I choose to think of that scene-stealing boy, who after Monday’s rehearsal, told his class teacher that it was the funnest thing he had ever done.

That’s what I’m thinking about.

Why is it so easy for the negative to obliterate the positive?