Dark grief tumbling across unready faces,
Taken to the place they feared it would lead.
Here is mortality re-defined,
The one like us, of us, with us,
Smiling and sad,
Coming and going,
Slipping across in a fragment of time
Too small to measure,
Now past measuring.
Like leaves falling,
No going back.
Finding solace in
Russ Morgan (2002)
Solid and yellow and appetising, they sit clustered together in the fruit basket as an omen of last things. In paradise everything becomes larger than life --- time takes on an endlessness, while enjoyment of the rainforest greenery, the blueness of the sea and the lighter blue of the sky slip subtly into a soul dimension. It’s an ever-present feel of eternity, deep and clear and enfolding, outside the bounds of the normal whatever that is. The very idea of a fast-lane city existence has long since floated away. Now it hovers in the background like the ghost of past-life reaching out to life-soon-to-come-again.
There’s a weighted sadness when the time to leave approaches, no matter how long or short the stay has been. It’s harder after the longer stays: there’s something unnatural about the idea of not being here. This place, day or night, bright tropical morning or the gentle twilight of closing day has a magic that claims my heart. On the beach, the remnants of waves arrive in gentle sweeps of lace. Soon, I won’t get to see them but they will remain fast-fixed in memory.
Monsoonal downpours allow a different thinking space, enlivening the imagination to travel in comfort under curtains of tumbling rain, the resilient bouncing of foliage and the gurgling of run-off water. It’s possible to meditate in the rain amid the splattering of raindrops on broad green leaves. The occasional louder plop sends a faint echo into the dense vegetation around it. Narrow stemmed flowers bounce to the rhythm of tiny streams forming sporadically and free-falling from taller palms and trees. Here are corridors of green gone dark under heavy skies. The hollow groan and shiver of black bamboo bending in strong wind.
The familiarity of routine-living takes on a preciousness through its simplicity and a humble grandeur soon to be left behind. The only comfort is in the thought of returning. Please God. So, we begin to measure the time that remains. By the middle of the last week the bananas on the kitchen bench provide a count down, one for each day that remains. In no time at all, just two are left. Departure looms. Then comes the unavoidable moment: the gesture that marks an ending but deepens the connection. The last banana has a pleasant weight, a smooth moulded shape, a sad promise. The time has come. I peel back the skin folding down towards my hand in sturdy strips. So now, that heavy farewell; I must eat the last banana.
Far North Queensland
17th October 2021
Dead and dying stand in columns across embattled hills,
stark grey faded from proud green
that once was.
Vines and unruly grasses
try to cover their defilement,
but no shroud can mark an end here.
Birds and other creatures knew first and fled,
As people feared for cherished lives left in discarded heaps.
In that bitter midnight, with stars in its eye, the storm
took the glory of forested hills and shores
but not their power.
They will revive, the common mantra says
And no one dares to disbelieve.
Tho’ now, when night steals the light
and we are suspended in time,
left with only the crisp sounds of the sea,
we can believe it is all still
as it once was.
But rising light cannot keep a secret,
So struggling hearts obliged to rebound
seek out hope:
green shoots on twisted branches and the fond sonatas
of birdsong restore our tested faith for another day.
(after Cyclone Yasi 2011)
Russ' Writings from the Wet Tropics
The wet tropics of Far North Queensland is a place of enormous natural beauty with World Heritage listed rain forests sweeping down to meet the sea. And it embraces one of the great wonders of the world -- the Great Barrier Reef.
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