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A Quarterly Journal
Jeffrey Woodward, Founder & General Editor
Volume 9, Number 3, September 2015

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Gerry Jacobson
Canberra, Australian Capital Territory, Australia


Yarralumla


1. Our Dreaming

It’s dawn. Grey and cloudy. I walk sleepily across the park and down to the shops. Then I pause, transfixed. And rub my eyes. Am I dreaming?

A car is sticking out of the supermarket’s glass doors. An old red car with the yellow plates of the state of New South Wales. Cordoned off by blue and white police tape stretched across the pavement. A crime scene. Two policemen stand there looking at it.

By day our suburb seems so bland, so respectable. Suits in the café with laptops. Mums with prams. Dogs walk with their owners. School children in coloured uniforms.

dappled shade
under the plane trees
people sit
chatting . . . reading
sipping caffe latte

But tigers prowl the night. They come in stolen cars, fuelled by alcohol and drugs. They tear down young trees, upend rubbish bins, smash bottles, break windows, paint graffiti, and drive into supermarkets. Who are they? Are they us? Our shadow? Is this our dreaming?

Yarralumla
McMansions gleam
in winter sunshine
just occasionally
someone walks in the street


2. Implosion

Crisp winter morning. The air tingles like champagne. Blue sky and it’s my birthday. Rae and I walk up Red Hill following footpaths. Border collie on a lead. Along the ridge there’s a viewpoint. We pause, the city spread out below.

our lake shimmers
in glancing sunlight
placid
innocent
hiding its drowned landscape

Someone stops near us, also looking at the view. Our focus is on the old hospital building beside the lake. It’s due to be blown up today. Imploded they say. To make way for a new building. A museum.

It’s an older man. We comment about the hospital. “What a pity!” “Oh!” he says, trace of a European accent. “That building is stronger than it looks. I was the concreting foreman. We put in extra reinforcing to take a future extension upwards.”

For a few minutes we stare together at the hospital. Silent. A bit sad. As we part someone says “Well, perhaps the hospital will fight back!” That afternoon 100,000 Canberrans are by the lake picnicking and watching the implosion.

On the evening news we hear about the death of a child, Katie B, from flying debris. The new museum has a sacrificial victim in its foundations.

the sun goes down
behind the Brindabellas
dark, grey, brooding
this day passes
into history


3. The Milk Crate

He sat on an upturned blue milk crate outside the local bakery. Most days a bottle of beer sat beside him. He greeted passers-by. Many stopped for a chat. I often exchanged “Good Morning!” with him. His health deteriorated over the last year. Alcohol I suppose, and then a stroke.

open grave
grassy hillside
white priest
gentle rain . . . gentle man
boxed-up . . . descending

He wasn’t really ‘old’ and some people saw him as a wasted life. But I felt that he was important in my daily life and in the life of the suburb. Simply by saying hello to people he gave us a sense of community.

six feet down
no milk crate now
no bottle
no good mornings
he’s gone from Yarralumla

But still I walk down to the bakery.


Author’s Note: Yarralumla is translated as ‘where the cry comes back from the mountains’ (Ngunnawal language).

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