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A Quarterly Journal
Jeffrey Woodward, Founder & Owner
Ray Rasmussen, General Editor

Volume 12, Number 4, December 2018
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Gerry Jacobson
Canberra, ACT, Australia


On the Acquisition of Walnuts

standing up
on little feet
he toddles
a few small steps for Ivan
a great leap for mankind

They stand together at the plastic play table. There's some water in there and a few bath toys. He slurps his hand around; "hydrological play," I call it. Big Sister Ruthie does something with a plastic cup, pours water over him. "Waah!" he cries. She pushes him over.

Their mum is clearing out food cupboards: her anti-cockroach strategy. She finds a bag of elderly nuts: walnuts and almonds in their shells. She empties the bag into the remaining water so that Ivan can play. He loves it, swirls the nuts around with his hand, reaches for a container. Ruthie grabs it, fills it with nuts and takes it away to the other side of the room. He tries again, but she takes more nuts away, stacks them in her private world.

I move in, then their mum moves in. Two huge adults needed to defend a one-year-old from a three-year-old. Ruthie throws a tantrum, hates me, and hates her mum. The whole world is against her.

clutching teddy
sucking her dummy
she drags
handbags, shopping bags . . .
a three-year-old bag lady

Later we debrief, my daughter-in-law and me. Neither of us really understands, or knows how to deal with, this situation. The possessiveness, the determined and forceful acquisition of inedible walnuts. Is she a child of her time? Or of all time? Are walnuts a metaphor for the "stuff" in our society?

in my dream
a little one drowns
leaving me
screaming for help
soundlessly

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