The Freedom Fighter

DSCN9485.jpgHe was a freedom fighter
to me, he was a rebel
to others, a soldier
to my parents, he was trouble

I was barely sixteen,
he, a few years older
we met at a party
fun was what I was after, and so was he

My parents watched with consternation
as things progressed too far
they were wise, cautioned softly, go slow
of course, at sixteen, it was advice I would ignore

At night I’d slip out the back door
to the intimacy of an empty park
somehow I’d find my freedom fighter
with cigarette tip glowing in the dark

He’d kiss me with a passion
I remember to this day
he promised me the world
If we left my hometown and ran away

In the company of friends
we would talk politics, knee deep in the car
I knew little about what he fought for
Yearning only the kind of freedom, I fought for

I once asked him if he’d choose his country or me
He looked at me intently saying
(as only a freedom fighter would)
If your country was wiped off the map
What would you do?

He had fought for his country
at an age when I didn’t know what that meant
But I loved his passion for fight
at a time when I was fighting for independence

Surrendering, my parents gave in
it was the lesser evil of the two
so they let me pack up and leave
all that I knew and loved, behind

He wept when I left him
the train pulled away, I opened his gift
I held it in my hand and smiled
as only a 16 year old would

It was a pendant, a bullet on a chain
Something I would never wear
a premonition of things to come
and yet, I didn’t care

Years later, I heard he was living in the USA
Married with children, he lives a staid life
This morning I know with conviction,
I did the right thing then.

Yes, my parents were right,
he never knew me at all
he may have been a freedom fighter once
but a staid life was not the freedom I fought for

a dawn bird

 

Moving on

It’s eighteen years and a day
My grief has come of age
So the boxes are packed
I’m giving your clothes away

The shirt I wore at dawn
Those grey socks kept my feet warm
your jacket is empty
the sleeves, too, of hugs.

Your touch, your taste is elusive
your absence takes up less space
I no longer lie in bed and wait
you nudging at my ribs
whispering, Hey! You awake?

It’s eighteen years and a day
yes, my grief has come of age
In that darkest space there is a celebration
as angel wings sprout
and thoughts of you lift me up

How proud you would have been
Against all odds,
I have lived to say
your memory brings joy as always
but you should also know, there are nights
Oh! how I wish you were with me again.

a dawn bird

Listening to small sounds

DSCN5375This is Solo, a duckling I found on the banks of the lake near my home.  She was part of a big family, but she caught my eye.  I’ve written about her in a post some years ago.  She was so brave and always vulnerable as she stepped away from the safety of the brood.  She had a broken foot that healed in a way that made her limp.  It didn’t stop her adventures.  I take my cues on life, from her.

It is only recently that I started to value my single life.  The thing I value the most, is early morning when I can be alone with my thoughts, but there are some disadvantages too, like a few nights ago.

I got to Moora just before dusk to find teens on mountain bikes playing chicken with the light traffic of occasional trucks and cars.  I have worked with teens who have no regard for law and order, more so than the rite of passage of adolescence.  When in a group, things can go wrong very quickly.  So I assessed what I could see.  The police lights were flashing in the distance so I knew they were keeping an eye on things.  I got to my chalet in the caravan park and started working.  By night time I curled up on the sofa to watch TV, the raucous laughter of teens carried by silence, to me.  A true life sleuthing of a cold case had me transfixed so I stayed on the sofa until late.  I finally turned the lights off and peered outside only to find, I was the only person staying in the caravan park!  I didn’t need to know this!

I lay in bed unable to sleep.  The caravan park backs on to a local oval and is right in the middle of the tiny town.  The sense of isolation crept up my spine.  My vulnerability made my heart pound in my ears, drowning out all other sounds.  Then I went through the drill of safety.  It goes like this.  As soon as I enter a hotel room, I check the doors and windows are locked.  I do this for a reason.  I’ve had three incidents where this kept me safe.

The first is when this safety drill took a life of its own.  It is another story so I’ll hold that for now.

The second incident happened in Broome.  It was hot and humid, as Broome usually is.  It was in the middle of the day when I got to my room.  I checked and the big glass door was locked.  I stepped in for a cool shower then wrapped a towel around me and walked into the bedroom only to find a man in the courtyard trying to open the sliding door.  I thought he was a guest and entered the wrong courtyard.  I called out to him but he scurried away without looking backwards.  When I reported this to the hotel, they mentioned other people had complained too and they were on the lookout for him.  That’s when it struck me that he wasn’t a guest and how lucky I was.

The second time was in Bunbury.  Fatigued from driving I lay down on the bed at dusk after checking the windows and doors.  I fell asleep and woke around 11 pm.  The curtains were wide open and the room was adjacent to the main road into town.  I closed the curtains, got ready for bed and switched off the lights.  As I lay there, I heard cautious footsteps, then the gate to my courtyard open with a slight squeak.  I listened as the security sliding door opened oh so slowly.  I was on my feet in a flash and flicked on the outside light.  I heard footsteps scurry away.  The management were kind enough never to give me an outer room again.

In Moora I knew everything was locked in the chalet.  This knowledge calmed me eventually.  I switched my focus on the here and now and lay in bed listening to small sounds.  Anxiety had distorted them to thunder, so I focused steadily.  I heard gumnuts rain on the roof in a stiff breeze while the hum of the air con filled the night air intermittently.  All was well.  It was summer in the Wheatbelt.  A time and place for everything.  So I allowed sleep to overtake me.

The next morning I woke to light.  I must have turned off the air con sometime during the night.  The chalet was cool.  The pink galahs were screeching raucously in the gum trees.  All else was still.  Despite the noise from the birds, it felt like solitude.  Coffee seemed to jar a gentle moment of awakening, so I made a mild cuppa tea, English Breakfast, instead.  And, like Solo, I contemplated.

Sometimes we create squiggles from a straight line.  Sometimes, a straight line can be a squiggle.  I’ve found resilience comes down to perception and how we see things.DSCN9964.jpgSolo has remained a duckling in memory.  I suspect a careless driver ended her adventures one day.  I never saw her again after the initial few days she roamed the neighbourhood.  I’m sure Solo would agree, single or attached is irrelevant.  It is how we live life is important.  Tiny as she was, she was powerful in her presence.  She taught me, if one looks, one finds, life is all about the unexpected.  I’ve seen new generations of ducklings since then, but she remains warm in memory.  Today my smile comes easier.

I’m off again.  Having given away the humdrum of 9 to 5, I’m humming Billy Joel’s, ‘This is my Life’ instead.

Until next time

As always

a dawn bird

Much like birds …

I find it fascinating that most birds pair for life.  How do they choose a life partner?  Do they ever make mistakes?  How do they work out differences? Do they ever fall out of love?  Do they ever yearn for the way it used to be?  How do they cope when their partner is no more?  So many questions.  I have no answers.

With the birds I observe, the males like the fairy blue wren are gorgeous whereas the female is less vivid.  Male birds work hard to get the female”s interest.  I once watched a bower bird diligently collect green objects (including an unattended key ring) for his potential love.  In the bird world, it’s Girl Power! all the way, it would seem.10960430_931215490224047_2663591319257657208_o.jpgThe pink galahs make me laugh!  It would appear, when it comes to love, no different than you and me.

I went through a phase after my divorce thinking it would be nice to be in a relationship.  I hadn’t factored in, life had changed me.  My standards and priorities were different.  I was stronger.  (Yes, Girl Power!).  Financially secure with adult children, was an attraction for some men, but they did not meet my criteria:  a man of integrity and social conscience.  I asked for nothing more.  You’d think I was asking for the world, but I know a man of that calibre would mean the world to me.

This evening the word prompt jogged my memory of a beautiful poem that encapsulated everything I felt in those days of search, so I’ll share it with you.

The Invitation

It doesn’t interest me what you do for a living. I want to know what you ache for and if you dare to dream of meeting your heart’s longing.

It doesn’t interest me how old you are. I want to know if you will risk looking like a fool for love, for your dream, for the adventure of being alive.

It doesn’t interest me what planets are squaring your moon. I want to know if you have touched the centre of your own sorrow, if you have been opened by life’s betrayals or have become shrivelled and closed from fear of further pain.

I want to know if you can sit with pain, mine or your own, without moving to hide it, or fade it, or fix it.

I want to know if you can be with joy, mine or your own; if you can dance with wildness and let the ecstasy fill you to the tips of your fingers and toes without cautioning us to be careful, be realistic, remember the limitations of being human.

It doesn’t interest me if the story you are telling me is true. I want to know if you can disappoint another to be true to yourself. If you can bear the accusation of betrayal and not betray your own soul. If you can be faithless and therefore trustworthy.

I want to know if you can see Beauty even when it is not pretty every day. And if you can source your own life from its presence.

I want to know if you can live with failure, yours and mine, and still stand at the edge of the lake and shout to the silver of the full moon, ‘Yes.’

It doesn’t interest me to know where you live or how much money you have. I want to know if you can get up after the night of grief and despair, weary and bruised to the bone and do what needs to be done to feed the children.

It doesn’t interest me who you know or how you came to be here. I want to know if you will stand in the centre of the fire with me and not shrink back.

It doesn’t interest me where or what or with whom you have studied. I want to know what sustains you from the inside when all else falls away.

I want to know if you can be alone with yourself and if you truly like the company you keep in the empty moments.

by Oriah Mountain Dreamer (@ http://www.oriahmountaindreamer.com)

I love this poem.  It speaks of a journey and many other journeys, some taken, some yet to be taken, some to be taken individually, others jointly.  It speaks of togetherness, of oneness of self, and with another.  I love the inherent spiritual nature of relationship in this poem.

So where am I today?  I no longer look.  I found oneness and togetherness in Nature.  I am in a happy place.  The danger, I’m told, is “this is when it happens”!

How contrary is life?

Until next time

As always

a dawn bird