thanks to dust

Burwood_Second_Railway_Station_1861-1892_large

Once again I find myself in a part of town where the past persists. So long since the last time. I could not remember when. The pimply fellow in an ankle length apron sluicing animal blood from the tiles on the floor of the butcher’s shop out into the street at noon of a Saturday; the grocer slicing sharp cheese from the crumbly block and then letting it fall upon the torn-off piece of grease-proof paper. The idiot child of the out of work plumber hoicking snot back up her nose on the corner opposite the ragged park across the road, where boys in striped jerseys contend for a cup made out of tinny alloys and inscribed with frangible names, none of which will be recalled in eternity. There’s Cushla Rhodes, the bank manager’s daughter, wearing starched petticoats under her flounced cherry skirt, talking through the hedge to Kevin Cole, the taxi-driver’s delinquent son. No good will come of that. Some child, born in a marvellous year, etc. Strange how the roar of the past extinguishes futures, especially since they are all we lived for. I say we but really I mean us. A box of books outside the second-hand shop on Elizabeth near Croydon includes a copy, in two volumes, of Ruth Park’s Guide to Sydney, wherein the antique city (c. 1973) is preserved entire, as if in a tale by Borges. Go and read if you do not believe. I hesitate; the shop is not yet open, its owners, whom I sort of know, old hippies who love cameras and Beatles records, are nowhere to be seen, although I can almost smell the reek of their unchanging threads. Ah well, it’ll still be here later, I think, knowing it won’t be; and it isn’t. And so on home into the brightening day where, out on the deck, on the high bed I souvenired from the medical centre, upon which, in another life, a young Canadian doctor once inserted a rubber-gloved index finger into my rectum in order to examine my prostate, I read: what would he do, he goes on, without this silence, abyss of murmurs, without this sky, which uplifts itself on the dust of its ballast? And we have barely time to reflect that the sky itself is visible thanks to dust . . .

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