I saw her again this morning. I wrote a poem about her over twenty years ago. I hadn’t seen her for years and I was astounded to see that familiar hunched figure ride by me on my walk this morning. She’s older now, obviously, but I recognised her immediately, the too-big helmet lopsided on the head, and especially the hunched figure pedalling by. Here’s the poem, unpublished and forgotten, until I saw her again today.
In bulbous headgear they are riding,
or walking the darkened streets
In the flat suburbs away from the bay
they are waking and running
In morning mist in autumn
they are silvery wraiths.
By mid-morning they have disappeared
into TV worlds
more real than the ghosts of the washing
luminous in the back yard
or the wind across the unmown lawn.
Around the cold streets she rides
helmeted head too big for a body
wasted by the long pedalling to nowhere,
thin legs and chest
a hunched haunted look.
She rides the daylight hours,
through the path and passage of her dreaming,
rides till she is light and flighty,
always some destination in mind
that is never quite here.
But which will be golden
I’ve been riding past this little spot for quite a while now, usually in all kinds of pain as it’s three-quarters of the way up a decent hill and looking down and looking down off the road and catching a glimpse of an old picnic spot. It’s a bit cut off from the highway now, a part of the old road and from the bike (but not the car) you can see the table and chairs where this little layoff used to provide a resting place for a cup of tea out of a tartan thermos and views back down to Dromana and Arthur’s Seat.
So today, since I’m on holidays and riding by myself, I thought I’d sneak in past the ‘Road Closed’ sign and take some photos of this lost place. Once you lift your bike over the sign, the short road in is in surprisingly good condition and I enjoyed a few minutes taking some photos (the Iphone 4 camera is a blessing because it’s a decent camera and always with me). I even sat down for a moment at the seat by the concrete table and imagined this place when it was a lovely little place to stop. When? I’d say more than twenty to twenty-five years ago since the new highway was put in, and the table and chairs are still there, waiting for someone to drive in, and get that cup of tea and some biscuits out of the boot.
The lost highway
The picnic table in the bush
A place to sit.
Blackberry vines and a table
The view back towards Dromana and Arthurs Sea. The diggers seem to have gone quiet lately but they’ve been busy reshaping this landscape for some time now.