Some of my latest writing
The wanton wind whistles through pane-less windows
Winding its way unfettered along the walls.
Rain hammers holes on the sagging roof joints
Happily splashing the sanctum within.
Sun bleached boards, paint blistered and frail
The sun reaching in to shadows,
And dampness inhaled.
Only the spiders, dust mites and birds
Now frequent the once preserved rooms.
Where are the families?
Full of joy and adventure, hard work and love that once dwelt within?
The music of laughter and small pattering feet
Is that just beyond hearing?
Or is that too indiscreet?
Smells of wood smoke, and smells of roast
Of soap and of garden and work sweat and hope.
The smells now are dampness and dirt and decay
No wonder most people stay well , well away
Are the memories forgotten or just growing dim?
Does the swing in the garden still hang from a limb?
The path to the door now grown over with weeds
Where the flowers and veggies once grew to succeed.
The house is alone now.
And yet it holds memories of hopes and of dreams.
What became of them?
Forgotten memories, broken dreams
Of a life and a love more precious than now
Helping the neighbours with those bigger chores
Like haymaking, docking or fencing the gorge.
Shared abundance ,
Shared achievement and joy
The frustration of prices that easily destroy.
The buildings still stand, a testament renewed
To all those who strived and to those who withdrew.
Maybe they failed
Or just moved on with doubt
As the need for economy drove small farmers out.
Forgotten memories, Broken dreams
That's all that remains now or that's what it seems.
And yet there's a lesson for all who will look
Society's history is not only in books.
It is cool here - above the plain.
The massive gums reach skyward
A hundred metres more,
Their dappled bark peeling to the forest floor
Where the tree ferns sprout in green abundance.
The forest is open in its search for light
And the new tree ferns rise up in lacy filigree.
The new fern tips - we call them korus -
Unfurling into the magestic light
Pale green against the instensity of the blue sky above.
So different to my New Zealand bush
And yet, the same somehow
Quiet and deep and sheltering.
This is an Australia I have not seen before.
It is full of silent beauty, settled cool depth
The bush silence broken only by the bird song.
Raucous bird song here
Not like the tui and the keruru at home.
And yet, somehow they fit.
This is a harsh country
And the Dandenongs are a soft spot
Hidden in the midst of raw plains
Like the soft underbelly of s spiny anteater.
Dandenong - who knows what it means?
Houses, cafes, tiny villages
Nestle along the road
Under the tall eucalypts.
But it is not these that we have come to see.
We have come to find The Sanctuary
Created by love and hardwork and vision.
Created by William Ricketts.
Within the cool untouched area
Of the highland forest he laboured
He moulded clay and formed immense walls
Spiritual, thought provoking, instuctural
Blending the Aboriginal laws with those of his
Christian upbringing and his mystic Indian adventure.
Mindful, even then, to leave to forest untouched.
The forest untouched that touches that place within each of us
That seeks what he has left here
Is it just a craft?
Or is it woman's art?
Is it just utilitarian?
Or is it messages within the cloth?
The thread and textile flows
From my thoughts and through my fingers
Colour, Pattern, texture
Emerging from my mind,
Manifesting in the piece,
Part of an account of history
That has gone before.
It began with thrift and necessity
To keep loved ones warm
Patterns, styles, stitches
Forbidden frippery - art in the patterns.
Expresions of suppressed creativity.
Art was not a profession to encourage.
Create the stitches - keep to the rules
Learn by samplers, learn like school.
And yet - the quilts emerged and morphed
Subtle variations, subtle changes to the rule
Individual, not contained, textured
Flamboyant - never the same.
Messages hidden in the Negro railway quilts
Or from the Shangi prison spreads.
Innocence in their utility hides
A much deeper process for those whose minds fly wide
To the possibilities that the stitches contain.
The thread and textiles flow
From my thoughts and through my fingers
Colour, pattern, texture
Emerging from my mind.
Linking with a heritage
From unknown, unclaimed women
Who have gone before.
This is my birthright,
This is their gift.
Not mere utility or priceless thrift.
The modern world so busy being busy
Overlooks the secrets in the quilts.
As the thread and textiles flow
From my thoughts and through my fingers,
Colour, pattern texture
Emerge from within my mind.
"Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness"
Remembered from my days of Keats' classroom poetry.
Dare I comment in the way the masters spoke
Of how this season shows its face
And brings us to a resting place.
The fruits have used the Summer sun
To grow plump and sweet on tree and vine
Now it is time to harvest
And enjoy their fresh full flavours.
Midday can still bring strength of sun
But morn and eve are Winter's chill reminder
It is a glorious season.
The trees tired from their Summer garb
Dry out their leaves and paint them in fireglow.
Nuts swell in their pods
And seeds disperse in the wild flower fields.
Nature has come full cycle - like a pregnant woman.
Now she must seal the seeds that will bring new life in Spring