Eighty-first Day

Eighty-first Day

walking slowly downhill 

Eighty-first Day, December 2, Melbourne



Mynahs and magpies, hunting each other, defending each other’s territories.


That’s what I observe today, out on the pavement.


Three mynahs hunt a tiny magpie until the little bird flees into traffic and stutters above the roof of a speeding car, managing to avoid it.


The parents come looking for their little one and once they locate it they flank it on each side with their bulkier presence and slowly stutter off to wait it out under the shade of a tree.


The mynahs now keep their distance.


They watch the magpie family from high above, the three of them perched together on the electric wires that span Queens Parade, ready to swoop should the opportunity present itself.


But it doesn’t.


The magpie parents never leave the side of the magpie child.


At least not while I’m there.


It gets colder as the sun lowers and so I leave.


As I do I look towards faraway trees and bring them into focus for a brief moment; then the bulky silhouette of an ascending skyscraper comes into focus and I stop for a moment to consider it, consider this horizon before me, this world I inhabit.


Suddenly I notice that shadows lengthen, clouds scatter and headlights are switched on. I feel very still as I walk on; paradoxical I know but endlessly, deeply comforting.


Somewhere not too far away there’s a kitchen with a burning hearth, upon which fragrant food is being prepared by carefree, openhearted people; a window opens onto their garden and shards of late sunlight illuminate the leaves of a lemon tree in blossom.


That’s enough for me, I think; I don’t need to be one of those people, or to smell the fragrance of the food or of the lemon blossoms, or even feel the warmth radiating from the hearth.


It’s enough that I believe all of this exists, perhaps only a street away.


I pick up my step and wheel back into my own life, its still narrowness now loosened and fluttering a little from the small breeze, a zephyr really, that winds its way from the very centre of my chest directly into the space just ahead of me.