Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Butcherbird on a Winter Morning

Here I am - sun shaded on the back veranda – six story high fig tree in full view - pillow under ass to raise me high enough to be able to type without pin prickles - licorice tea - macadamia nut cookie beneath my – well, in between - my teeth. I'm ready to write my timeless commentary on middle-aged women. Yeah -middle age. I could live to 120, you know. I could if the pain factor were not to increase at an exponential rate - probably not a gift to anyone - least of all me. I complain so easily about what hurts. The tall Australian thinks I don’t complain - believes I am a stoic. What role is this that I have been playing?

Polyhedron – yeah - that’s me. Polyphrenic is more like it - many persons. One for each day - one for each encounter - and here in Oz where no one knows me, those are plentiful. Not the interactions. They have actually been few and far between. I am kept under wraps, a script unfinished. Not so sure it is ok to present me in the lounge room. Maybe the back bedroom but not the front room.

I just finished reading Jonathan Raban's Passage to Juneau, a delightful travel book for the first 300 pages. Then, in the second to the last chapter the whole world drowns. The tsunami reaches proportions from which none can escape. His wife arrives in Juneau to announce within hours that she is leaving him, that their marriage is finished. After an entire manuscript absorbed in sailing through the wilderness of Alaskan waters, the last ten pages takes us home – numb. We sail in a fog of unrecognizable inlets and wide crossings. Danger means nothing in that change of mien.

And here I am, a visitor in Australia who is slowly coming to an understanding of the parameters of this new world populated not with persons but with birds. Let me introduce you to them, these friends of mine, these fellow travelers. Well - not quite. They live here; I am simply visiting.

In the morning – early - with the sunrise – well, in winter that's not so early - about 6:30 or so - the Butcher Bird sits in the palm on the south east corner of the house and chortles his greeting to the dawn. In deep-throated multi-notes he calls his mate to join him. She unflinchingly does and together they bring wakefulness to those warm bodies on the other side of the open veranda doors.

Eyes not yet open - ears alert. Then, peaking out from the warmth of covers, we two snuggle deeper knowing that the cold winter morning has sprung unbidden again. The musical call of the Butcherbird is an invitation to crawl closer to the tall warm body of the Australian bloke beside me - always on the right. His left-handedness pushes him to the right. When he rolls over, his right arm burrows under the covers around my waist. A playful warm stretching morning hug ensues. But, on some of these mornings when I reach over to see if he is still filling his space beside me, I find only cold coverlets. He is off on his cycle along the river trail to Kangaroo Point and I miss the reason I traveled ten thousand kilometers across the Pacific. At these moments, I curl up into the Butcher Bird's song and fall back to sleep waking later to hear the lorikeets screeching song in the back garden.

And why are these songs blue? Because I am a moody bitch, never quite sure what I want in life. It is difficult to make decisions when one doesn’t know what she wants. When one is unsure of what love is, how can one recognize it in oneself or in another. There are moments when unbidden the words slip from my mouth. ”I love you” comes in soft murmurs, sometimes in silly laughing tones - unbidden those, as well. But, more often than not there is time for me to me to think about what I am about to say and the words are not spoken. Why? Because there are certain gifts that need to be reciprocal or not given at all.