NIGHTMARES

BIG BUSINESS….A slight delay!!!

Day dawned, bright, sunshiny and dew laden
Birds twittered cheerfully in the treetops. My boys still sleeping, I greeted the dogs, let the chickens out, then with milk pail in one hand, I headed out of the garden, down the small sloping paddock, to the sheepfold gate….wide enough to drive a car or tractor through.
Well, I meant to …..there, lolling on his side, soaking up the sun, was BIG BUSINESS ….vast back leaning on the entire length of the gate. His small harem of cows, grazing peacefully nearby. He terrified me, head lowered, face completely unreadable…..his massive bulk as impassive as a small hill.
What does a novice say to a big, belligerent Bull….”shooo”, “piss off you big bugger”, he stretched a little, the red muscles rippling along his spine, and tossed his head (it could have just been an annoying fly), how the hell do you read a Bull’s emotions (they’re expressive and readable as rocks) , but legs dissolving to water, I retreated walking away backwards, eyeing him with loathing….the sheep flock the other side of him, were bahhing to be free. Goats with full udders, bleated from the shed, and BIG BUSINESS shifted, stretched again, lay his head down and went to sleep.
TIME PASSED…..this monstrous creature had me completely bluffed…..a desperate call to the stock and station agent didn’t yield much….just walk up to him, and shoo him off, don’t worry about it…..but I did!!!

MA© Summer 2018
To be continued……

THE FUNERAL

The day dawns, overcast , cold and grim, storm clouds banked overhead, rain threatening.  The body is laid in a simple, unadorned, pinewood coffin, covered with home made posies from relatives and friends.

The time it takes, unendurable as the Priest rambles incessantly, as the funeral moves on to the final resting ground, the local cemetery.  Maggie once again takes the reins, finds a song from long ago, a soulful tender ballad of love and death and the beating of wings….the final transformation.

And then it is over. Nothing more for them to do. No wake.

He drives her home, won’t stay, and at her door, pulls her to him, kisses mouth, nose, her hair.

Turns, turns again and calls “I’ll see you in a few days “, then turns again, retracing his steps, holds her hard against his chest. “I am a selfish bloody fool”, he says, “I forgot to even thank you”.

“And I was so very happy to do this for you….go now, I’ll see you very soon”, she turns his shoulders, watches him close the gate, reach his car, wave, and then his pirate’s smile, that flash of teeth. He slips into the car, drives away, and she stands for those last few moments, gathering herself, seeing the empty space, then walks inside, closes her door, still feeling him holding her hard , the strength of fingers clutching her arms and the bitter sweet taste of him, lingers on her lips.

DEATH AND SEX AND GRIEF

It has always been this way.

An ordinary house in a quiet suburban street, no garden, just a concrete path leading to a thick glass front door.  He takes her hand, locks fingers with hers as they walk inside.

The child’s father, drunk into a stupor, sits slumped in a chair against the far wall.

Her mother, his sister, eyes red and swollen, face blotched from weeping greets, hugs him….meets her, acknowledges and accepts her presence here in this house of desperation and despair…..leads them into the young girl’s bedroom, where she lies, dressed in a long simple white cotton nightgown her Grandmother has made for her final sleep. Arms straight by her sides, her cuts hidden now, surgically bound.

Face still and stark in death, showing nothing of what went before as she slashed her wrists….as she saw the dark blood gushing, tried vainly to get up off her bed, to reach the door, where she, not long before in anger, had locked herself in. And now as the blood pools ever faster onto the  floor, she cries out, calls to her family……but each and every one is enclosed behind their own doors, transfixed by their flickering screens.

She screams,  once more cries out to them, then lies down, weakened, drained…..her thick blonde hair dyed metallic black falls back across her ashen face, as she slips away, as death takes her, and her last whispered words….”what a shit of a life” as she dies.

The air in the house is suffocating with guilt, with blame and shame.

She stands trying to still the need to run, to rid herself of the horror of this place, this house from where nobody will ever recover.

How can she help, how can she be of service, to bring something healing, to become more of herself than she feels….for him, fingers still locked with hers, head bowed, ashen faced by her side. To this beautiful, snow white child.

Turning then first to him, Brian, then the mother, the aunties who stand at the doorway looking in, heads bent, weeping.

“I would like to do something, bring something of myself, to offer some Healing. 

May I ?”

Heads nod in acquiescence ….they are all frozen, unable to think, to move.

“Bring me her favourite summer dress, some scissors, needles and thread.” and to the other children, brother, sisters, “take this basket, go down along the street and pick as many flowers as you can….everything hanging over fences, fill it to the top….can you do that?” and nodding yes, pleased to be released they rush outside, into fresh air and momentary freedom.

A moment alone, she turns into him, feels the sob rising in his throat, his heart hammering in his chest, places her hand against his cheek, touches his lips…..

“I will see to it, I know what to do now, I will take care of everything …..you will get through this, I will help you” and he grabs her hand, kisses her fingertips, his eyes fierce with unshed tears, trusts her, leans down to her….breathes her in.

All is in readiness, the beautiful young dead girl, Sophie’s favourite floral print dress…..a scattered pattern of wild flowers, ferny leaves, butterflies and bees. He  brings chairs, circles them around the bed, as Maggie instructs Mother, Grandmother, the Aunties….”tear the skirt into long wide strips, as many as you can, and then we’ll hem them, and rebind her wrists” and to Brian and the children, “come, bring the basket here” and placing it by the bed, she begins, weaving flowers through the young girl’s hair, nods to him, “will you take over with the kids, while I start sewing?”  He’s only too pleased to have something to do, to work quietly beside his nieces, his nephew……then he finds something more….a quiet inner peace fills him….unafraid now, as he adorns her hair, he looks his little Sophie fully in the face, finds solace and tranquility there.

And the day slips by in a slow dream filled silence, but for the occasional murmured word, the soft sounds of sewing, people shifting, someone crying.

And the wrappings are done….again Maggie shows the women what to do.

A slow, methodical winding of the lovely floral fabric, completely covering the surgical bandages, then she, Maggie, neatly folds the ends in.

A white clothed maiden, flowers woven through her jet black hair, on her wrists her flowered gauntlets, and flower chain anklets. Ophelia, lying before them, waiting, in stillness, in deathly silence, but waiting.

Opening her bag, she brings out a bundle of herbs, a shallow ceramic bowl, dried grasses, matches…..ushers everyone out of the room, except for him, who closes the door, waiting.  Dried leaves piled upon a bed of grasses, she lights the match, ignites a tiny fire of eucalyptus, lavender and sage…..blows to fan the flames, then lets it all die down as the cleansing smoke rises, as she walks the room, smudging the body, each other, the four corners….constantly blowing the smoke, and the  blessing comes unbidden…..”go with love and peace, go with love and peace child, go now, blessed Sophie, and she nods to Brian who opens the bedroom door, who opens the front door wide, as she brings the healing smoke all the way from room to room, and then finally outside.

And all the doors hang open, letting the soul leave the body, leave the house in peace.

As quickly as it is done, she puts the fire bowl down, drops to her knees and howls with grief…..at the terrible waste, the futility, and he bends down beside her, lifts her up, enfolds her, carries her out of the house, into the car, takes her to the hotel room they are staying in for the night, undresses her like a small child, places her in the bed, covers her, draws the curtains…..sits to watch beside her, as she sinks down and down and down, deep into the blessed refuge of sleep.

Waking late in the night, she finds him, still sitting there in the bedside chair, doubled over, head in his hands. She slips out of the bed, goes to him….he’s stiff with cold, frozen from the horrors of the day. Touches him gently, her hand stroking his hair….”where was I when she needed help, I could have helped her but I wasn’t there” and lifts his face up to her, stark white in the dim light, face tormented with grief, with the relentless unanswered, never to be answered questions.

“Why didn’t somebody know how bad things were for her….how angry and alone she was feeling……ahhhhhh we were all so goddamned fucking busy. It’s like a blighted religion…..the religion of busyness.” And scathingly….”I could have paid more attention, visited more often. But of course, I was so busy.”

She cannot fix it, all she can do for him, is listen, touch him lightly with her hands….a blessing on his head, and allow him to speak, to rage, to weep. Until he reaches up for her, pulls her down into his lap, wraps arms tightly around her softness, holds her close to keep the damning thoughts at bay.

She turns her face to him, hands lightly caressing face, neck and shoulders, easing cramped cold muscles, lending him strength.

Feels him stiffen, as grief becomes need, as he stands up still holding her, takes her back to bed. And still she holds him, holds back the tides of grief that threaten to engulf, to drown him. “I’m choking ” he says against her hair, “I can’t breathe ”!!!

Then she covers him, unable to still his mind, she can comfort his body….give him release from the sorrow, the pain, the cutting blade of grief, covers him completely with her body, feels him slip between her legs, enter her deep….cleave to her, like a man drowning. This is what I can give him, an anchor in his emptiness, as she rocks him gently, feeling the horror and the tumult of this terrible day fade and fade and fade away…..and still she rocks him till she falls in and in and into him….one flesh, raw grief, lust, sweat and tears, and frenzied now, wanting only to be devoured….to disappear into that single blinding  point of light.  And weakened, trembling, gasping for breath, the gracefilled blessing of sleep comes down upon them….and her last thoughts, a prayer for the lovely lost child, “holy Mother of God, bring this blessed child peace….bring her peace”, and still she holds him, deep inside her, she holds him

IN THE CAR PARK

ITS HAPPENED BEFORE, Coincidence or serendipity, he has arrived at his car at the same time as me, parked side by side,  has waved or smiled.

Aware of me. Today he turns unexpectedly, walks over. Stands there, lean limbed, relaxed, yet holding something back, some strong emotion, feeling, not smiling.  “What is it, what do you have against me?” He says….a sharp intake of breath….fingers drumming on the roof of my car.

Seated inside, window down, looking up at him, I am unprepared and vulnerable, utterly guileless.  He has noticed me often lower my eyes, look away.

“What do I have against you?” …..”Nothing…. I have nothing at all againlst you, and that is a great sorrow to me.” I am neither witty, clever or flirtatious, just straightforward, and he’s so surprised he has no response….just stands back from the car, straightens up, smiles and walks away.

He walks away from me.

The Little Death

BREAKING TABOOS…..AN EROTIC FANTASY  (Previously )

THE FINAL GASPING SHUDDERS left her soaked and trembling, coming back to the world of her knowing fingers, heart pounding like a drum….would she die from it?  “Not a bad way to go”,  people joked.

There was no laughter now, no tiresome cliches….her wanting consumed every waking moment, and sleeping.

A puny finger was a poor substitute;  she hungered for more….the need to have him solid inside her was a craving so fierce, she felt she would die ….from lack of it….of him.

To look upon him left her wet, weak and trembling….desire took all strength from her, and gave nothing in return.

And then she saw him, working….crouched down searching for something…..silver streaked shoulder length dirty blonde hair, tied back loosely.

An opportunity arose, to speak to him.

She thought she’d been wrong, but as he lifted his head, turned his face towards her, she realised she had not.

He stood up….so tall, she had to look up to him. Lean, verging on thin. Clear blue eyes…his face lined, careworn, yet open….momentarily.

Beautiful bones. She couldn’t remember his mouth, because his eyes held her.

His voice….quick of speech, educated with an undertone of humour.

Captivating.

Author’s note….the reference to “dirty blonde hair” is a colour, not suggesting unwashed.

FLORENCE EMILY

My Grandmother FLORENCE EMILY TREGANOWAN…..Lasting influences.

When I first arrived here in Maryborough, I went to Worsley Cottage, the original Historic Homestead, just literally around the corner. It didn’t really leave much of an impression on me, except for the gorgeous rambling cottage garden I passed through to get to the front door…..which was very low, all the doorways were so much lower than they are now.
Built in 1894, of Bluestone, it had a simple central passage design, with tiny bedrooms either side, opening up into a large kitchen spanning the width of the house, with a huge black cooking range.
WHAT I REALLY DID NOTICE, were the small mutely coloured Rag Rugs, in every doorway and by the kitchen Hearth.
I was immediately back, a small child, in my Grandmother’s house…..for she had the very same rugs at the entrance to every room.
Having lived through the Great Depression and the Second World War…..she knew how to make do. Every one of those little rugs, was handmade, reusing a hessian sugar bag or potato sack as backing…..then laboriously cutting up old clothes into carefully measured strips, hooking these through onto a pattern she would have drawn on with dressmakers chalk, then, when completed, they were trimmed neatly across the top (like clipping a hedge). From memory, there were only four colour options, Maroon, Navy, Black and White…..but the patterns were as varied as her imagination.
What happened to those little rugs, made with such skill and care???. As a young, newly married Woman, when she died and her house was cleaned out….I had no interest in such things….neither did my siblings.
I imagine they were……simply……thrown…..away!!!

MA© Summer 2018
to be continued

DYLAN AND NICK

DYLAN and NICK…..Firefight over TV

THE MORNING ROUTINE was a joy….my husband, a Civil Engineer working in the City, left home early before the boys were awake.
Milking done, I would let the goats out of their cosy shed, open the gate of the sheepfold (dog attacks were a constant menace….so I herded them uphill and into safety every night), chickens released, to free range far and wide…..I would return to the house, strain and bottle the milk, and start on breakfast. My little boys would wake, run straight to the lounge room and Dylan would turn on the TV….a godsend for a busy Mum. The kitchen was down the hallway from where they were, so, after morning greetings, I’d get their breakfast, make school lunch for Dylan (whatever needed doing), before School and Kindergarten.
I hadn’t had time to light the fire, so, being a cold morning, I left them sitting together…..eyes glued to the screen, with a small radiator carefully placed well out of their way, to warm up the lounge room.
THEN ALL HELL BROKE OUT!!! A fight had started over choice of programs, not witnessing the “hows and whys”, I can imagine it easily. Nick, being only 2 and a half, wanted to watch Sesame Street…..but Dylan considered it far too babyish….he wanted to watch Gigantor, a violent Japanese Cartoon. So, Dylan got up and switched channels right in the middle of Nick’s favourite show…..Nick, always holding his own would have launched himself at both Dylan and the Television set, and struggling to get what they each wanted, they kicked over the radiator…..which came to rest against the newly upholstered Couch, just home a week.
It took only seconds for me to be on the scene, but by then, the far end of the couch, blackened and smouldering with a lovely red glow, was ruined. I filled a large saucepan with water, chucked it into the mess, then with the fire safely out, radiator and tv, turned off, my subdued sons went to their bedroom to get ready for School.
What did I do about it???
SOMETIMES the best action to take is to leave the scene. Too upset to speak, I walked out of the house, sat down in the garden, and watched the animals grazing peacefully…..surrounded by my three dogs, they settled down around my feet, having licked my face, sympathetically.
I sat, breathed deeply, soaking myself in farmyard serenity, then calling to the children….we climbed into the car, drove to their separate places of respite, and coming home I walked the dogs, down the hill, across the creek and into the Chestnut Wood.
AHHHHHHH, sweet peace and harmony……

MA© Summer 2018
To be continued…..

FARMING DAZE

FARMING DAZE, with BIG BUSINESS THE BULL

UNTIL I AGREED to farming cattle, everything went smoothly. I was in Heaven, loving almost every small daily detail. The small flock of Black, White and Multicolored Sheep flourished with their Ram working enthusiastically to ensure lambs of many colours joined the flock….held safe within their nightly fold, and released each morning out onto hilly pastures, they all thrived. Animal Husbandry came easily to me, they were given the best of care, shepherding them up the hill from the creek each night made easy, by the promise of oats. They would hear my call, and rattling a small container I carried with me, they would come running, bleating with joy at the promised evening feed. The big gate closed, sheep folded, goats milked and shut inside their shed, chooks perched and locked in, safe from foxes….all was well.
As for professional farming….I failed on many levels. Castration of young lambs (necessary on many levels), one Ram is more than enough, Wethers produce the very best fleece….. I now had both a Loom for Weaving and a Wheel for Spinning. David, being far less emotional in these matters, bent to the task of applying the thick, tight, castration rings on the small lambs I held still for him, who only moments before had been racing round their mothers, chasing each other, jumping high into the air with the simple joy of being alive. Moments later, in shock and terrible pain, they cried out, staggered towards their anxious mothers, fell over and repeated this all again, until flesh around their tender testicles, numbed, and finally all circulation cut off, would wither, die and drop off. My recovery took longer, agonized by their cries of terror and pain sent me reeling into the house, bent double with stomach cramps to lie down clutching a hot water bottle…..blocking my ears to the bleating of Ewes and the crying of their babies…

AND THEN THERE WAS the daily terror of the Bull……he was the size of a small car…….

MA© Summer 2018
To be continued

Nightmares

BIG BUSINESS….A slight delay!!!

Day dawned, bright, sunshiny and dew laden
Birds twittered cheerfully in the treetops. My boys still sleeping, I greeted the dogs, let the chickens out, then with milk pail in one hand, I headed out of the garden, down the small sloping paddock, to the sheepfold gate….wide enough to drive a car or tractor through.
Well, I meant to …..there, lolling on his side, soaking up the sun, was BIG BUSINESS ….vast back leaning on the entire length of the gate. His small harem of cows, grazing peacefully nearby. He terrified me, head lowered, face completely unreadable…..his massive bulk as impassive as a small hill.
What does a novice say to a big, belligerent Bull….”shooo”, “piss off you big bugger”, he stretched a little, the red muscles rippling along his spine, and tossed his head (it could have just been an annoying fly), how the hell do you read a Bull’s emotions (they’re expressive and readable as rocks) , but legs dissolving to water, I retreated walking away backwards, eyeing him with loathing….the sheep flock the other side of him, were bahhing to be free. Goats with full udders, bleated from the shed, and BIG BUSINESS shifted, stretched again, lay his head down and went to sleep.
TIME PASSED…..this monstrous creature had me completely bluffed…..a desperate call to the stock and station agent didn’t yield much….just walk up to him, and shoo him off, don’t worry about it…..but I did!!!

MA© Summer 2018
To be continued……

THE LONG RIDE HOME

THE BODY OF A WARRIOR
THE MIND OF A GENTLEMAN
AND THE SOUL OF A BARBARIAN…..DG

WOUNDED
BLOOD SMEARED
AND REEKING OF SWEAT
HE WAS FEARLESS AND BOLD
WHEN FIRST WE MET
FORCED ME WITH THREATS
AND CHALLENGING HIM
AT THE POINT OF HIS SWORD
I GAVE IN
I WENT THEN
WENT ON HIS HORSE
WRAPPED IN HIS PLAID

DAZED AND EXHAUSTED
HEAD WRACKED WITH PAIN
EARS STILL RINGING
WITH THE SCREAMS OF THE DEAD
TRAPPED IN THE HELL
OF MY COMING
NUMBED WITH THE
STONES STILL RINGING
UNWILLINGLY HELD IN HIS HEAT
HIS YOUNG BODY CLEAVING
WAKING, THEN SLEEPING
THE HUGE HORSE BENEATH ME
THE ROCKING RYTHM
HIS ARMS AROUND ME
HIS LEG MUSCLES TENSING
FLEXING, RELAXING
THROUGH THE LONG, COLD NIGHT
ON THAT LONG, LONG RIDE
SOAKED WITH RAIN
WARMED BY HIS HEAT
WRAPPED IN HIS PLAID
WE WERE ALREADY ONE
BEFORE WE WERE WED
ON THAT FIRST LONG JOURNEY
FROM THE PLACE OF THE DEAD

UNWILLINGLY BOUND
LOST, THEN FOUND
BY THE TIME WE DISMOUNTED
ME SPLATTERED WITH MUD
HE COVERED IN BLOOD
I LONGED FOR HIS HEAT
THE STRENGTH I HAD KNOWN
ON THAT LONG, LONG JOURNEY
BRINGING ME HOME
I CRAVED HIS WARMTH
I CRAVED HIS SMELL
WITH NO WORDS SPOKEN
MY BODY COULD TELL
HE FELT THE SAME….
UNWILLINGLY, I BELONGED TO HIM THEN
AND I STILL DIDN’T EVEN KNOW HIS REAL NAME

AND I STILL DIDN’T EVEN KNOW HIS REAL NAME

?FOR CLAIRE AND JAMIE?

MargaretArlen ©️. Wednesday Writings
Autumn, Central Victoria, 2020
Above Title by Diana Gabaldon
DRUMS OF AUTUMN

Photo belongs to STARZ

DYLAN AND NICK

DYLAN and NICK….Part 1

A small robust diversion from the AUSTRIAN COUNTESS, but as my favourite writer Diana Gabaldon has taught me….a Writer does not need a Storyline…..a book can be created from a patchwork of stories. I had an epiphany hearing her speaking about her method….suddenly all the pressure of “how to” dissolved, and the stories burst forth like a river in flood….

We had moved from the old family house in Ambrose Street, Emerald to a beautiful little farm (23 acres) nearby on Paternoster Road, into a modest weatherboard house, perched right on top of a hill. My small sons, both now in Primary School and Kindergarten, my husband becoming more successful, spent longer hours away from home…..apart from financial support, I was in all other ways, a single Mum.
Needing something more, being influenced so strongly by my relationship with the Countess, I began carefully selecting animals. It was the early 70’s, the counter culture was thriving. Whole Earth Catalogue, Grass Roots and Earth Garden magazines were my teachers……the idea of going back to a better way of living, being self sufficient, living with Nature were intoxicating to me, and being very like my beloved Grandmother (paternal), I thrived surrounded by goats, sheep, chickens, a pony for the boys, the small herd of Herefords I managed with the help of a Stock and Station Agent.

DYLAN and NICK……with the farm stocked with animals of my choice, the days were filled with harmonious routine. Milking was part of it, and goats were my choice…..Anglo Nubians……those fabulous creatures of multi coloured coats, aristocratic faces with high domed foreheads and long curved ears. The breeder I bought my does from gave me my first lessons, and then I was on my own…..a steep learning curve as I grappled with the delicacy of handling animals adapting to a novice…..there were tears…..

MA© Summer 2018

Dylan and Nick

a hazardous drive

we select a Sire

DYLAN and NICK…..Part 2
(OK, I’m getting there)

Her shrill cries and constant bleating were the telltale sign of a goat in season….without a Billy Goat (their smell…… sublime seduction to a Doe in season, is powerful, invasive, repulsive….it seeps into your clothes, clings stubbornly to delicate nasal passages, and ruins the milk), advice was sought from experts, phone calls were made, and an appointment for a few days mating, arranged. I would take the doe to the Buck. It sounds so simple….does it not??? You would have had to be there!!!
Getting an unwilling goat in the far back of the car was the easy bit. Then the boys, Dylan and Nick , freshly bathed, in winter jamas, woollen dressing gowns and slippers, were strapped into the back seat, and I, the lone occupant of the front seat….headed into the night, to a location I’d never been to (it was the best time for the owner of the Buck).
My children were high energy, robustly competitive, and I felt often like a referee, instead of a Mother. God, they were always fighting, from the moment they could both stand upright!!!
I don’t know what started it, I was focused entirely on driving unfamiliar, unlit, back country roads, finding my way…..the car vibrated with the frantic bleats of an anxious goat, and then the boys started fighting, full on yelling and physical clinches…..a driver’s fucking nightmare. I told them to stop, threatened, cajoled and screamed…..but, they were “in the zone…fight club”, they were impervious to all and any threats!!!
So I swerved onto the grassy verge, jumped out, shaking with stress and anger, undid their seat belts, hauled them out of the car to the side of the road, climbed back in, and drove off, leaving them in the dark. Looking into the rear view mirror, I remember clearly now, two small boys, abandoned, standing together in frightened solidarity……as the bleating goat and their demented Mother, left them behind.

MA© Summer 2018
To be continued……

DYLAN and NICK…..Part 3

My last view, through the rear vision mirror would tear at the heart of any warm blooded Female…..two tiny boys (approximately 3 and 5 years old), huddled together in the darkness, of a small back country road.
But I was seething…..so, I actually drove off up the road, leaving them in a total blackout, to meditate on their sins.
It was a valuable lesson for us all….at heart, young children are basically immoral ….they “work their parents, like a dog works sheep”, and words are absolutely no substitute for action.
They were only alone for 5 or 6 minutes, while I calmed down, started breathing again, swung the car in a tight u-turn, and drove back.
They hadn’t moved…..shocked into silent submission, I lifted each one, without speaking, back into the car, strapped them in, and at last found the Stud Farm. The owner met me at the gate, having heard the Does cries coming down the road. I led her across to him, gave her a brief pat of encouragement, then returned to find 2 angelic beings, heads together, fast asleep……exhausted from their brief adventure, they slept soundly all the way home, through the moving from car to bed, right through till next morning.

MA© Summer 2018
To be continued…..

the terrible two

a fire fight over tv

much more