Combined: The Winds of Association

(Max Patte’s Solace of the Wind (2008) above, leans north into the Wellington harbour’s harsh gales while displaying its own inner tranquility.)

Yesterday was a Marvin Gaye-athon. It left me really wanting to listen to Robert Palmer’s combined Mercy Mercy Me/I Want You, which I was sure I must own a copy of. I’m sure it’s one of those songs I played over and over. I couldn’t recall owning it on cd, so today I finally got around to pulling out the record collection.

Oh that was a good decision! I’ve had so much fun going through the vinyl and it was hard to get up off the floor and move away from music…I could have sat there and listened to many of those musical treasures. My memory, which I suspect I left back in the 90s, was in good form on this occasion, but the song I wanted isn’t on my vinyl edition. So I accidentally went to the iTunes store and bought it! Ha! It’s the soundtrack to my writing today. I think it’s nice when pieces of the past can add to the pleasures of today.

I love the wind. It blows things around and back and through. It makes memories for me and recalls them. Windy Wellington has been a place of lovely memory making for me. I’ve loved spending time there when my sister and brother in law lived in New Zealand. Hanging in Anne’s studio/art gallery, exploring Arty Bee’s Bookstore with Gerard, coffee, breakfast and a view at the Maranui, wandering the waterfront (where the sculpture at the top of the post can be found), the library and Te Papa – all with the sense of a wind borne freedom that I can catch from the combination of wind and holidays.

I’ve just shut the back door. There’s a gorgeous wind blowing and a storm coming up, but there’s also smoke and my paranoia had me wandering the house in case the cat had taken up pyromania and not told me.

My sense of smell has improved since I quit smoking. Which is good, because it was never that great. I squashed my nose when I was two, climbing a bookshelf to get to my teddy bear…said bookshelf did not stay upright. My nose is consequently a bit more button-like than my siblings and I’ve never used it conventionally – I wouldn’t blow it when I was a kid and I don’t regularly breath through it still. But it does now find me on occasion wandering around looking for the source of smoke…just in case.

I have paranoia about the house burning down. I don’t know why. It’s only nearly happened once and even then it wasn’t a big deal, just a power point on fire and melting with the air conditioner that was plugged in there still going…until my instincts led me to pull it out – not the smartest thing!

The highlight of the whole occasion was the very public visit of two trucks of firemen who blocked off my narrow cul-de-sac and spent Friday night hanging out with my visiting friends and I…they clearly did not have much on. They enjoyed showing us how the heat scanning equipment worked as they checked there was no lingering fire or smouldering going on in the wall behind the power point. They checked on the smoke detectors. They pondered over the electrical board and decided to mark it up for me. And they set an expectation that when my friends have a girls’ weekend at the Writers Wrest they get firemen included.

The winds of association…I’ve just remembered a piece of writing I did for English class in high school…I’m just going to do some more hunting around for things I hang on to and see if it’s there…Success!

The Verandah

It was evening. The wind was playing havoc with my dreams and I could not sleep. I slipped out of my cocoon behind the kitchen and crept out onto the verandah. My gaze took in the wire fronting, and rested on the wooden door that granted entry to the yard. The old grey stairs seemed to sigh with the evening breeze. I remember hearing those stairs creak often, bearing the burden of Rita’s feet and whatever was destined for the incinerator, or hosting Emmie’s tread and the hipped washing basket en route to the separately housed laundry. The song of the stairs was often followed by the sound of the backyard tap, the cold leaves from a coupon teapot swimming down the gully trap where my cousin’s bogeyman slept.

The house seemed to jump in time, or rather I did. In my great aunts’ house I could imagine myself in the “cathedral of Draper”, with its stained glass windows and wooden attic containing a ghostly painting of a past saviour with still beating heart. But then, sitting on the verandah, listening to the now howling shrieks of a playful wind, and watching the silhouetted trees weave, my eye caught sight of a neon sign. Spinning like a maddened top, accompanying the tram song in a duet devoid of meaning, and laughing uproariously at the Melbourne nightlife.

The whining of a child’s voice filtered up through the floorboards of the verandah and was immediately surrounded by more frantic voices, trying to quieten the first. “Shhhh!” and “You know we’re not allowed in here!” And with that another memory walked away, bumping its head on the underside of the verandah and tripping over the lawnmower, an assortment of boxes and abandoned things, and trying to untangle its small feet from the garden hose.

I looked towards the end of the verandah, to the plastic skittles. Lying asleep, they were dented and some beyond repair. They were in need of a ball and someone to play with. Beside them lay a rust bitten tray, upon which were prided the garden tools and shoes. They were solid yet weary, and like their owner, showing shades of age.

I became aware of the settling wind, it now barely breathed. I slowly got up and wandered towards my bedroom, taking care not to stumble too quickly back to reality. I’d left the verandah, and part of my life that could not be lived again. The simplest things can have so much sentiment.

Mighty can be the pen and mighty can be the wind in holding our memories. Before it gets too much longer, I’ll finish this post with Aberjhani’s powerfully combined wind and words.

A Night in Savannah the Wind Wrote Poetry


Anxious and ancient scratches tore the air
with fingers eager to have their say,
pulling me out of bed, they cast and re-cast
nets of lexicons deep inside the womb
of the river’s roaring belly, hauling up myths
born in Georgia and legends sung in Carolina,
the wind howled visions that burned the night.

Wind of April 15, 2007, screeching like knives on fire.
Wind of April 16, 2007, in Virginia 33 counted dead.

Across the wide shoulders of Tybee Island
with thumbnails of exploding waves the wind
typed furiously remembrances of Buddha;
on the aching spines of weeping pines it carved
the bleeding parables of Christ and
and the pleading hadiths of Muhammad,
oh the wind dreamed a dream that haunted the night.

Winds of the moon coughing lunar dust in my face.
Winds of the sun preaching flame down my throat.

What could it be using for ink I wondered,
and opened my window to yell—

“What are you using for ink?!”

A whirlwind of neon alphabets split the dark
wide open and inside its bright fury I saw
one-legged pirates dancing with blind prophets,
I saw kings counting gold, and queens telling God.

Wind of dead flowers starving for flowers.
Wind of nuclear cockroaches gobbling insanity.

Like a Passover Poet gliding from house to house
and from trembling soul to trembling soul
the wind scribbled sonnets of first time love
and weeping haikus of last hours on earth.
Up and down Broughton Street birds splattered
half-rhymes against windows and over rooftops,
the wind boomed sorrows that raged all night.

Wind of Confederate blood boiling gray miseries.
Wind of black slaves dancing juju jazz charisma.

 Snatching me through the window a mighty fist
of air held me and a thousand more upside down
shook our bones like a tambourine of lightning,
wind and thunder and bones rattling cadence
for the sun that had set and the one about to rise,
for hearts pumping life and those about to stop,
the wind wrote a bloodbath too foul to read.

Wind of April 15, 2007, screeching like knives on fire.
Wind of April 16, 2007, in Virginia 33 counted dead.


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