There were some worthy places where we could escape,
Avoid the heavy weight of living in a densely
Peopled space; the first was to the outside loo
(the only loo but where at least the toilet paper
Could be read), a very basic spot at best and
Not a famous thought unless you needed
To relieve insistent body stresses. The loo
Was close at hand but only as the final choice,
And in a house of eight the dunny queue was used
To grossly exculpate such crude ineptitude.
Then there was a tree or two, take your choice,
Actually there were twenty three, we mostly
Named them all and climbed each one
With simian rapport, but not at night, and night
Was when the social pressures soared. Trees
Where sacred ships and flying things, offering respite,
Magically transporting all the sorely used
To places off beyond the tepid grind of daily life.
I write of trees with great respect;
In need a place of sanctuary, a place I wont forget.
There were cabinets in the house which offered room
When smaller size was useful to the very young; one
Was called the ‘safe’, a ventilated space that served
When meals were done to hide until the call for bed,
Or story time – and story time when books were read
Would dredge a solitary resolve, seduce the most
Recalcitrant. When we could retreat outside,
And hide beneath the wooden bridge we thought
Of trolls and elves and warty dwarves, and how
We’d stand upon the deck, staunchly claim a toll
And never let the traffic pass without a show
Of due respect; we never did, we only hid.
The stream would patiently feed our solitary needs,
Placate the maladroit and send us sneaking home
When judged that all the chores were safely done.
And last upon an endless list of special places
Was the company of a handsome witch who deigned
All social graces, rain or shine would rise to greet my fond
Embraces with a fervour she reserved for me; Belle,
A novel name, a short-haired border collie bitch
Of faultless breeding living in the grossest luxury,
A corrugated iron water tank that lay horizontally,
And unlike the loo which really stank, afforded ample room
For two. She decorated her abode with half-chewed bones
And bits of woollen blanket, dressing her environment with
Blasé flair just as she pleased. If it weren’t for fleas
I could have lived there comfortably, she had freedoms
I would never dare or dream to claim for my shared room.