Geraldine Doogue wakes me from my morning slumber.
She slips from the morning radio
detailing how Nelson Mandela’s 95th Birthday is being celebrated
with exhortations to spend time doing something for someone else.
Play it forward, I think.
It is warm in my bed
And grey outside the vertical blinds
that curtain the heavy grey suspended water from my grey matter.
Didn’t I pick up Marissa – the woman with the rainbow-striped umbrella
from the side of the old Pacific Highway in Bangalow.
She’s done this before – stands in a place where it is easy to pull over
after the roundabout and before you accelerate to climb the hill.
It is toasty in here,
And the world outside can get stuffed,
I only have my solicitors appointment after the woman from TAFE rings me back.
I try to work out where I know the familiar planes and lines of her face from
and so we pass the journey exchanging our basic biographies
(on the course through the pretty hills no ordinary person can afford anymore)
and down the course of the old cedar cutter’s shoot to the lurking speed camera
reminding me that tax collectors are everywhere
while apologizing for the experimental music inside my car
from the CD that I acquired amongst the stash that the librarians didn’t have storage room for
in the collection at the new library in Byron Bay.
Didn’t I plan a trip inside my head as she leaned in?
Much as I plan my day from the warm cocoon
Visualizing the paperwork awaiting me on the dining room table
Evidence for the legal vultures that will circle for a while over this one.
Umbrella furled in a long candy cane
defying the episodic dampness that accosts anyone
choosing to exist underneath the grey north coast sky.
I offered to take her to the Brunswick Heads turnoff – but, hell!
It wasn’t much to deviate from my direct route home and go past my grandparents’ home on the hill,
funny acting like a tourist guide when she has probably lived here longer.
I drop her with a lengthy conversation through the passenger door ajar
closer to Mullumbumby, at the Uncle Tom’s turn off where the pie shop hunkers
between refills as people fill their tanks with that precious commodity:
liquid caffeine and carbon fuel
to power them on their journey past the bypassed.
I roll over.
Surely I’d done my bit for my fellow humanity.
Hitchhikers yesterday. Solicitors today.
I lie in bed restless thinking morning thoughts
that stitch my consciousness from yesterday to today problems with the insert:
“Why has no one thought to steal the vintage cement mushroom shaped tables and stools?”
Here I am in the rainbow region, rewinding my playing-it-forward:
yesterday with the solo female hitchhiker trying to get home.
Maybe the lawyer will have good news for me after all.
I push back the covers and swing my legs over the side looking for my slippers
and make my way to the kettle in the kitchen.
Happy Birthday Madiba.
Alexandra J Cornwell
Vale Nelson Mandela
18 July 1918 – 5 December 2013