poem: Sandy by the sea 2006-12

Sandy by the sea  2006-12

06 began with fall from moto – ouch!

And fractures slow to heal,  so had to buy

An automatic car; then stuck in slow

And heavy traffic all the time – Prahran

Intense and crowded – thought we’d sell and move

To Sandringham.  Meant selling Barwon Heads

As well.  I published Cheap as Chips, a book

Of forest campaigns  history  in this

Our state Victoria.  Then had a go

At forests novel:  William Creek.  We had

A  break in FNQ:  Palm Cove was nice

But Rochi sick with Crohns’ – got better fast

At home in Vic.  My mum at eighty-nine

Dementing, sister Kim a transplant scored.

On happier note it was the first of years

With Lucy, little Staffy, lovely dog.

We moved to ‘Sandy’ late November; house

Was just a little cottage by the sea.

We added water tanks with solar heat.

07 starts with job for me quite close

In Hampton – Southend Clinic – all nice folk,

But Rochi travelling by train; good job

She’d found with Makin’s gallery near the old

Abode!  We planned to renovate, then took

A holiday in Perth, saw Uncle Bill

And Norma Jamieson, returned to threats

Of litigation over Cheap as Chips

By Wombat Forest Group, a bunch of mean

And nasties, just vexatious, caused a lot

Of trouble as they’d planned to do.  At end

It came to nothing, Rochi warned them off

With words of legal substance.  India

Our next big break – five weeks in Rajasthan

With Mughal forts and palaces, the Taj

Mahal so glorious, and quiet time

In lovely Goa – curried fish so fine.

08 became a busy year at work

With plans to combat deadly bird flu should

It come to Oz; it hasn’t yet.  Oh dear

I needed hearing aids to help me hear

The women and the kids at work; I’d hurt

My hearing long ago with firewood saw

At Mirboo North.  Put solar panels on

The roof for power, then took a break up north

At Byron Bay where we first met.  At end

Of year mum died at ninety-one, relief

For her, I think – dementia such a curse.

09 saw gruelling renovations here

In Sandy; long it took but ended well –

Our builder  Ross just so professional.

We christened it with birthday party fine

For moi on turning sixty.  Bought a house

In Seddon – that’s my super; helped us get

To know the west of Melbourne – quite a change

From here in Sandy:  folk and refugees

From all the dangerous places of the earth.

Toiled hard on Seddon just before a job

In Kalkarindji, locum work in far

NT, my first.  The blacks so poor and sick,

Their plight disgraceful here in Oz, a rich

And lucky land.  We took a break, ten days

In Kakadu closeby,  and Lichfield Park

With mighty pools and waterfalls, no crocs!

This year Tate graduates in Archi; what

A coup for him; his brother Lec at work

In Physio, and sister Eve exec

At Penguin Books – all three are up and off.

Then from the blue Tate sickened – insulin-

Dependent diabetes, damn it all,

But coping well; a family curse, this pain-

In-arse disease.  There’s worse of course, much worse.

Its 10, and old George Nurse my friend from years

Ago in PNG has died at home

In London; stayed with George when Eve was born,

Goroka, seventy-nine.  I’ve started work

At Maidstone’s  Gath’ring Place, in Koori health

Two days each week.  We drove two weeks around

South Island of New Zealand, mountains wild

And beautiful, fjords just so lovely.

Another NT locum, Tennant Creek,

Five weeks confronting as before; and then

A stay in Bali – clever folk, so deft,

Creative, spiritual.  Back home our first

Female PM is Julia Gillard, sad

She toppled Kevin Rudd in party coup.

It poisoned voter feelings for this tough

And smart ex-lawyer; needed Greens to govern.

11 starts, I’m reading  Milton’s great

Prose poem and then Dante.  “Life on Earth”

By great Tim Flannery came next – wondrous take

On Gaia.  Then, by God, were massive floods

In Queensland, then in Vic, Christchurch earthquake,

Tsunami, nuclear meltdown wreck Japan’s

North coast – dire events and prophecies!

We took a break on Fraser Island, bought

A house in Hervey Bay – a little rash

Perhaps – it was a rush of blood to head.

Dear Lec and Cat have left for London, on

The way to backpack Mexico and all

Those risky places south; be safe and well!

A dreadful massacre in Norway, mad

And bad right-winger killed so many young.

Aunt Helen died at ninety-eight, a dear

Old thing and sharp until the end; her son,

My cousin Peter also gone a few

Months later, loved by many friends.  Our first

Barmitzvah, went with Rochi; son of friend

And colleague David Shap.  Strange mix, relaxed

And formal service like no other we

Had seen.  Then Eve and I worked four hard days

At Hervey Bay to clean and stock the house

For rental – fun it was to spend that time

With Eve.  Five weeks in Katherine followed, just

Like locums past; nice town but people sick

As dogs.  What have we done to these first folk

Of this the lucky country?  Then we had

Three weeks in Thailand – major floods but fine

And friendly people, lots to see and do.

We stayed one week in Phuket; Rochi’d won

It on a scratchee.  Plush resort but I

Caught Dengue; now I can’t go back for fear

Of deadly illness – rules out most of South

East Asia.  Still, we’ve seen the best of it.

It’s 12, and starts with such a sadness deep

And unremitting:  Caitlyn Haskett  dies

Of mortal illness, lovely, young and smart.

A parent’s nightmare, worse there could not be.

We’ll try to help our friends her mum and dad

As best we can, but grief is such a sole

Endeavour.  Then a scandal draws me in:

Ian Gawler shown to be a fake, and I’m

A part of case against him, published in

The Age – page two headlines.  It’s very sad

That hope for many cancer patients has

Been dashed.  Rochi’s parents sixtieth bash

Then flying them to Hervey Bay with our

Dog Lulu on the plane as well.  And Eve’s

With child at thirty-three – she lives with Craig

In warehouse large that Craig is fixing up.

A fine Olympics in UK, a war

Of hate and barbarism in Syria

Has spoiled the Arab spring.  Alastair  Mac

Old friend from PNG has skyped – he’s now

A well- known writer and ecology

Professor.  I shall leave the Gath’ring Place –

Too many money problems, join the near-

By Joslin Clinic seeing refugees.

But first my usual locum stint in far

NT, this time at Nhulunbuy  on Gove

Peninsula; it’s hot of course but cooled

By breezes off the Arafura Sea

And Gulf.  I like it here, will come again.

My sister Kim remains a brave but frail,

Disabled diabetic, in and out

Of hospital but helped by that fine son,

Her Ollie and her husband Tony – loyal

To Kim through all her ups and downs and downs.


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