Mornings ought not to be complex
I loved that opening line in Michael Dransfield’s poem. In the main, I liked his poetry, though the only collection of his I read was Drug Poems which I think I read a fair while before he died. He was a year younger than me and, it seems, a madly fragile hippie. He died in 1973 and he was 25. I did love that poem about mornings but all I remember now is that opening line and the next couple:
The sun is a seed cast at dawn
Into the long furrow of history
I admired this poem too because some of the great poets have written about mornings and they are a hard act to follow. These poems are often not about renewal, as you might expect, but about things falling apart. There’s also song writer poets like Leonard Cohen whose song about the end of a relationship is in that tradition:
I loved you in the morning
Your kisses sweet and warm
Your hair upon the pillow
Like a sleepy golden storm
But I am with Michael Dransfield about morning, at least I think I am because I cannot recall the rest of that poem. Mornings probably proved to be very complex indeed. For me, the character of mornings with Rocky depends on how I decide a walk-defining question: Do I listen to Fran Kelly — and before Fran the BBC news — while we walk or do I walk radio-less, without ear phones clamped around my head.
Rocky by now knows that when, during the ritual of getting ready — putting on socks and running shoes, placing treats for Rocky in a small bag, folding up three blue poo bags, showing Rocky his lead which always elicits a whimper of excitement — I put on a cap, put the earphones on and place the small radio in the pocket of my shorts, that our walk is likely to involve consideration and comment on some aspect of what is going on in the world. I mean the world beyond the sand of St Kilda beach, with the rocky outcrops I swear change by the minute as the light of morning changes and the tide changes, and the black swan, alone beside the pier, there most mornings, its aloneness sometimes alarming. The world of walkers and joggers and deadbeats still drinking, on the sand, dead-looking.
As far as I can tell, Rocky is neither pleased nor displeased by this choice when I make it. I assume this is because in these circumstances, when Fran Kelly inhabits my head and I inform him of my response to something or other that Fran has sent me, Rocky is attentive and warm. In a restrained sort of way. He is joyous when I go silent because I am immersed in that other radio-transmitted world. It is then that he can race ahead, along the wooden boardwalk, tennis ball in mouth in search of someone, anyone, who will throw it for him, down across the sand into the water. He inevitably finds someone who obliges him and then he is off, across the sand, head held high, ball watching, racing towards the water. He is a good swimmer as you would expect.
On these walks, when I am ear-phoned and plugged in, the silence between us is a sign of our mutual alone-ness. There is the comfort of our company, yes, but there is freedom, for Rocky at least. The freedom to indulge his ball-obssession. For me, there is the echo, the left-over, of my previous life when it seemed that every waking moment was absorbed by what was happening in the world beyond my immediate surroundings and beyond my memories and day dreams. I am no-longer in that life when what I read and listened to and watched was determined by what I thought I needed to know to properly do the job I was doing.
Sometimes I feel like I am a recovering junkie. It still takes an effort for me to leave at home the earphones and the radio and Fran Kelly and the GFC — have you noticed that Kevin Rudd last week decided the GFC is no longer the Global Financial Crisis but the Global Financial Cyclone? — and the witless, charmless world of Australian politics and the fading hope for the change promised by Barack Obama. Not to mention the prospects of the Essendon Football Club which an old colleague, one of the best football writers around, told me recently were not all that promising.
When I do manage to leave that all behind — perhaps three times a week — and Rocky and I set off towards the beach in the dark silence but for the crunch of tyres and when the wind is right, the whistle of the masts of the boats moored at the Elwood jetty, there is a sense then that the morning is precious and that the world I once inhabited is long ago and that its grip on me has loosened.
That is not a bad thing. I hope. I reckon Kevin Rudd, who for a smart, even brilliant man, has a tin ear and is prone to badly framed exageration — a terrible combination — has played a part in this grip-loosening. I heard someone — Fran Kelly? — suggest recently that Rudd boring has now spread to all his key ministers and that this has been a deliberately engineered infection. It is designed to drive us to distraction as the GFC blows over Australia. Mad as this sounds at first blush, my experience suggests it might just work.