Tuesday, 5 July 2011

The ideal height of a front fence is the same as the height of a good pony

The urge to walk always comes as the sun sinks. I used to walk south-west, down the short hill towards the tall footbridge where a person can stand and think with a proper horizon, one that curves with the world and doesn't end with a building. Lately though the urge to walk comes accompanied by an urge to skim near the homes of friends. Just glide by the entrance to their street or glance up at a window and see a warm glow behind curtains.

I thought it was enough to navigate around just knowing where friends will come back to at the end of each long day but I'm not sure now. Last night I swept under the grim railway line, hollow train sounds, flaking posters and a dankness not justified by the climate push me out the other side, fast. I turn up beside the railway track and follow the cyclone fence along its little journey guarding concrete sleepers bolted into beds of sharp grey rocks and the place where I imagined I once saw a severed finger.

I look hard at the street sign for Baltic St, named I guess for my ancestors. I looked hard at the dinner party guests on the weekend too, no salt from the Baltic detectable in their outlook, only the high sweep of a cheekbone or curve of a nostril would give you any idea at all.

Halfway up the slow hill Robert's Eyrie comes into view. Crazy cube of a building. I can just make out the vase full of knitting needles by the window. I only know what it is because I have a vase like that, on a shelf, full of drum sticks. From a distance they make the same pointed shapes, fat and flowerless stems.

Cutting through the meagre grounds of the old church I see signs everywhere, 'please don't steal our plants'. I wonder who would want to, desperate things hanging on to chlorophyll for dear life. I turn down alleys as it pleases me, heading North towards Spencer's strange house with its unexpected hallways and everywhere bathtubs and purple ceilings.

I come out suddenly on Probert St which sweeps a clear path downhill and back up again. Open and straight like a long wound cut by a scythe. Winter feels almost gone this night. The Frangipanis already ludicrously sprouting leaves from their bulbous ends, like trees drawn in crayon.

Crossing a thin arterial road I make a turn towards Abdullah's. His street offers me the opportunity of dodging the whip of tree branches before opening out onto flat industrial ground where his urban fortress sits in its unlikely locale. If I hadn't been politely ushered through the blank metal door in the flat brick wall I would never have imagined what lies hidden behind. Abdullah with his records and guitars and coffee machine that makes coffee the same way you get blood from a stone.

Finally I come to the banks of the loud metal river they named Parramatta Rd. Wishing as always that I could make this journey on a horse. Somewhere in my youth I became so accustomed to travelling on four legs that I exchanged my rhythm for their own. Every step missing the brother echo of a foot that doesn't exist.

I'm not sure now if navigating around where they come back to is what I'm really doing. If I could I would walk through the pulse of their words and songs. Walk slowly and breathe in something of their work as the words and rhythms float silently down amongst the gutters and fallen leaves.  I'm walking through ideas to make myself contemporary, with them, weaving my feet through something bigger than my own words.

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