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The enigma of the island

  • 23 June 2015

Critical Reviews   A reviewer closed a thorough appraisal with ‘...he is at ease and adept with his craft, even if he is not at ease with his past.’ This sly memory pops up unbidden; 5 a.m. in a world of silence where he is also adept at brewing ritual tea.   It’s true he often gives the present the flick, mining incident-rich seams of the past, eschewing time wasted in waiting rooms, on must attends, biros busy, sipping tea, duelling memory. He knows his bell will toll soon enough, rations his days dwelling in the most private art.   Speed-reading an empty evening eating toast he spills crumbs on a best-seller, lacks belief, wonders who is at fault for its translated prose, what anchored the nineteen gushing blurbs. He also assesses absurd films on TV from long ago, could, should, be rereading Heaney, Burnside.   Clearing debris after increasingly windy days he pictures a ghost-garden lit by olden sunlight. A once glorious tree has died, noxious fungi circling its trunk where guests dissected books, their children joyous in the sandpit he built. What are days for, he thinks, honouring Larkin.

The Enigma of the Island   Wind when our light aircraft approached the strip, fierce gusts shifting us sideways, doomwards, warned us, a war party of offended island gods. A following flight was eventually redirected. Watching from the terminal with a small crowd, apprehensive, I ushered our young boys away.   Our salt-blasted car rental veteran guzzled fuel, gearbox a disaster gasping past wallaby roadkill leaving the dramatic volcanic mountainscape for glimpses of carved bays, Crusoe beaches contrasting with weathered scrub, still farms. I just wanted a change, this island ghosting my future.   We lingered by a bay as each of us fell in love. Wind swept, waves muttered outside our door. We left knowing we must return, all changed, to become seasonal visitors like gypsies, renters, recipients of goodwill, our growing boys studies in bronze on a beach holding us in thrall.   Littlies up front, brawning back to anchormen, we dug in at the tug-of-war on sports day. The coastal dwellers slowly revealed themselves, stoicism masking a kindness most of us long for. We know we are years dead, push our stake to the pot, this rough-hewn block, the joyous shack, now ours.   

960-990 AD Download   Burning a smoky block of dressed timber from our