She parks on the road in front of the dense, high, dark green hedge that protects her family home from the street. She opens the old gate. Not the new gate to the white and almost shiny concrete drive. She walks up the path, turns left, quickly walks up the two concrete steps and walks the short path to the many-coated steps of her home. They are a dark green.
She knocks on the door of the former state house. Its front door still has all the panes of its original glass. They are strong and staunch like the house.
Her Mother opens the door. She can tell this is not going to be a happy visit.
“Come with me.”
So she does. She’s led past her old bedroom into the minuscule hallway, into the former kitchen and out to the old laundry that is now the kitchen.
“Look, look” her Mother says as she points out the window that overlooks the section.
Her Father is in the garden. He wears the traditional migrant gardening attire of old clothing and hat. He has a spade or a fork.
“Look, look” her Mother says.
So she looks.
What is she looking at?
Her Mother tells her. He’s been out there for hours leaning on the gardening tool in his hands.
She went outside and asked him,
“What are you doing?”
The Mother’s volcanic anger fizzes through her face, out of her mouth and spews over her daughter.
“He says he’s thinking”. “He’s thinking.”
She looks at me and the malice in her face crumples into the despair of the multi-talented, the exceptional, those who cannot understand the ordinariness of the rest of us. Her voice cracks,
“Why can’t he think and work at the same time?”
I want to tell her that he is Irish and she is English. That she is exceptional and he is a poet, a writer, an artist. But somehow I cannot tell her. I cannot betray the years she has worked in menial jobs to enable my education, my success, my present life. So the coward in me agrees with her that he’s a useless old git and she’s the most tolerant woman in the Auckland region.
Now I am the Irish. I stand on the cobblestones and look out to sea and wait for the thoughts, the words, the rhythm, the sounds to take over my head. I wait until I have to race inside and write. Another useless old git.
Rosemary Balu. Rosemary Balu is the founding and current Managing Editor of ARTbop. Rosemary has arts and law degrees from the University of Auckland. She has been a working lawyer and has participated in a wide variety of community activities where information gathering, submission writing, community advocacy and education have been involved. Interested in all forms of the arts since childhood Rosemary is focused on further developing and expanding multi-media ARTbop as the magazine for all the creative arts in the Bay of Plenty, New Zealand.