September 2007


Many beauty routines are for the sake of the one being beautified. Mine – particularly my eyebrow topiary – are for the comfort of others. I don’t have to look at The Eyebrows. I don’t have nightmares about them growing together and then down the side of my face.

“You have the most wonderful eyebrows!” said the beautician. “You can hear them rip.” She sounded genuinely delighted.
“I’m glad I could brighten your day,” I said.
We then discussed Regency banquets and I discover now that she had a very good time with my eyebrows. They are narrower than they have ever been and look rather lost in my face.

This did not seem to bother my Macedonian taxi driver, who told me I was beautiful, and was I married? did I have a boyfriend? was I looking for one? because he knew how hard it must be to find a guy who wasn’t “a pisspot, stupid or not right” when you work until after 10pm, and promised to look for a suitable husband for me.

non-exhaustive list, and not to imply that they are my favourites of those authors, or that tears are the only worthwhile effect a poem can have – just in my case the most disfiguring:

  1. ‘The Last Parade’ – Banjo Patterson
  2. ‘Somewhere friendly’ – Bruce Dawe
  3. ‘Old Gustav sings…’ – Judith Wright (that is the first line, not the name of the poem)
  4. ‘Into my heart an air that kills’ – A.E.Housman
  5. ‘Two chronometers…’ from ‘Five Visions of Captain Cook’ – Kenneth Slessor

‘The Last Parade’ is the worst. I can’t read it out loud to the end without breaking down. It’s embarrassing.

Effective writing (which is not at all the same thing as good writing) is writing which is cut in such a way that its teeth fit into the hollows in a person and break that person open. It can be violent, like an axe, or efficient, like a key, or subtle, like water underground.

 

Not all words fit all people, or strike them in their tender parts. Some, by accident or design, fit only a certain sort of person, or only a rare handful in all the world. Somewhere there is a person who feels as if their chest has been unlocked and a hand clasped around their heart when they read a well-written contract (it certainly affects me, although not in that way).

 

Spoken language can do this – the apt word, the speech that resonates through history, a sentence spoken over radio waves. Written language magnifies that effect, broadcasts and preserves it. Poetry, if you are at all susceptible, being “the best possible words in the best possible order” manages it faster and better.

 

I should know by now not to read poetry on the bus, or before I need to be presentable. I can only read Banjo Patterson’s poems to my father in a strict order, if I want to get through them (‘The Last Parade’ is the end of the line). Last week (when I had run out of Le Fanu and had no unread books left in my room) Bruce Dawe made me laugh aloud on the bus, and then cry and I arrived at work puffy and thinking in blank verse.

I’m in the process of moving house from the old Errantry – still stretching my legs here.


“Wedding”

Honoured Guests
or
How to Survive Your Best Friend’s Wedding

The Meme: Illustration Friday
The Theme: Weddings
The Idea: Oh, there are so many things wrong with the modern wedding scene – where to start? I settled on the trauma that innocent guests are sometimes exposed to. Mostly because I wanted to practice drawing circles in photo shop, and I hadn’t given my tablet much of a workout lately. Or at all.

There aren’t enough cool colours in this.