Sunday, December 07, 2014

Costumes 2

Avery had an afternoon sleep and now he can't drop off. I have read three stories. Martin played harmonica. I sang him a song. Una reminded me that the note said we had to have a family dance after dinner. We got Avery up and danced to All I Want for Christmas is You and a remix of Last Christmas. Then I took Avery back to bed.

I did a self-compassion body scan with him, where we thanked all the parts of his body for what they've done today (thank you mouth for talking and blowing and singing, thank you fingers for picking up and poking) and he gave himself a hug goodnight. (Why don't we teach our children to self-soothe?) I sang five more songs, including Time After Time and Famous Blue Raincoat.

'In true life, monsters can talk,' Avery says, because he doesn't want me to leave.

I say, 'There are no monsters in true life. They are just pretend.'

'Last day,' he says, 'Last day I saw a rabbit on the road in true life.'

'Yes,' I say. 'Rabbits are real.'

'And kangaroos. Kangaroos are in true life.'

'Yes, kangaroos and rabbits are real, but monsters are just in stories.'

'Mm,' Avery nods. 'Monsters are costumes. If there was a monster on the road and a car came and drove over him, it would squash him flat.'

Saturday, December 06, 2014


'I'm not Avery. I'm Thomas,' Avery pipes up from the backseat of the car.
'You're Thomas?' I say.
'This is a costume,' he says, patting his torso.
'You're Thomas, inside an Avery costume?'
After a while he says, 'Actually, I'm Avery.'

Chay next door has come to visit. Avery is sitting up in his high chair eating yoghurt and blueberries. He says, 'these are sticker eyes.'
Chay watches his eyes very closely. 'Are you sure?' she says. 'It looks like they're moving.'
Avery blinks slowly and deliberately. 'They're sticker eyes,' he says.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Time travel according to Una

Una says, 'I wonder what happened to Amelia Earhart. Freddy said there was crackling sounds on her radio, like she was asking for help, but I don’t believe that, do you?'
Una says, 'I’d like to meet Amelia Earhart and ask her.'
This leads to a conversation about time travel. Una says, 'If you go back in time would you meet yourself?' 
I talk about continuity. I say, 'Maybe its impossible to time travel and see yourself.'
'And see your butt,' Avery says.
'I think it’s possible,' says Fred.
'Just ill advised?' I ask.
'But it’s impossible to time travel,' says Una. 'Because absolutely everybody would have to do it.'

'There couldn’t be a life without you. If you weren’t in that world everything else would have to change. So everybody would have to come with you.'

And then, just little by little, there wasn't any big epiphany or anything, I came to see that things were never really right between us and that they never would have been. It took about two years, maybe longer, to understand that. And now she's married and I'm not, but I'm really happy we're not together.
And it makes me realize that I have been time traveling. It's just that I've been traveling into the future at 60 minutes per hour. And maybe that's how we fix the past.
Sean Cole, 'The Leap' This American Life
This conversation has been sitting in my drafts for months. The other day, after we'd time travelled into the future at a rate of 60 minutes per hour, Una tells me she'd like to work in a museum, because 'she's very interested in Amelia Earhart'.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Two dreams

I dreamt that South Africa introduced a 90c dollar. Everything would still cost the same, it's just that 1 dollar equalled 90c instead of 100c. They solved inflation. I woke up electrified, sure I'd come up with a truly ingenious idea. It took a few days for that feeling to go away.

I dreamt I was at a party. You were there.

In the morning after the party, there was a woman in a car. She'd tried to kill herself.

Robin Williams was there. He looked in the car. Someone said, in a really insincere way, 'RUOK?'

He smiled, he said, 'I'm fine. I'm fine.'

I whispered in Una's ear. I said, 'Go and tell him that if he feels sad, he should tell someone.'
She put his arms around him and said into his ear, 'If you feel sad, tell somebody here.' His arms tightened around her.

But then someone came up to us and said, 'We're just doing some light readings, and then we'll get you to say it again on camera.'

I said to Una, you don't have to. And she didn't want to. She told the woman she wanted to be real. On the way out, Robin Williams said, 'You helped me, maybe you could help others too.' Then Una wasn't sure. And I thought, who am I to stand in her way? This could be her big break. But it was really sad, you know?

Friday, October 24, 2014

Morning stories

Avery comes in wearing Una's school hat and a white singlet and nothing else. 'I'm pretending to be a wife,' he says. He takes the hat off and holds it like a bucket. 'Would you like some of my compost?' he offers, speaking in a high voice, his lips puckered.
'Hello wife,' I say.
'No I'm pretending to be a wife,' he says. 'I'm Avery.'
'What's a wife?' I ask.
'I don't know.'
'Are they good?'
'No,' he flops backwards on the bed. 'They're bad guys.'

After protracted negotiations, I buy Avery a home made lemon curd ice-cream in a waffle cone (I know!).
But when it comes, he is upset, because he doesn't want a cone.
I say, 'Do you want me to put it in a cup?'
He says 'In a cup with a straw and a stick and a spoon.'
Frustrated, hot, I say, 'I don't know what you're talking about.'
Sad, he tells me, 'It's the only language I've got.'

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Conversations with the living

Tonight Avery asks, 'Are we new?'
I say, 'You're pretty new.'
'No,' he says. 'Are we new.'
I say, 'There's been nobody like us before.'
Avery says, 'Robots are people and people are robots.'

I talk to my dad on the phone. He has gone from the hospital into aged care. He says, 'when I went into the hospital I thought my time was up.' He says, 'I still think it might be actually. I can't get out of bed, or move around like other people. I'm stuck here.' I ask him to hang around till Una and I come visit. He says my brother's already told him to hang around a bit longer than that. My sister is coming from England next week. There's so much to hang around for in that strange halfway place that's like living and dying all at once. I say, 'But if you need to go, go.'

On the day we get our 5 month old schnauzer, Swoosie, desexed I let Una, 9, stay home from school because it's Fred's last day on school camp. On the way to pick Swoosie up, she says what if Swoosie was already pregnant? I tell her about the cat we used to have, Janeway, who we had desexed when she was pregnant. 'They just take it all out. But they're not really kittens. Just embryos, just clumps of cells.' We talk about abortions and how sometimes women can end pregnancies if they're young, or don't want the baby. Una asks if women can get desexed. I tell her usually it's the man who gets the operation, because it's easier for them. We talk about whether a dog and a cat can have babies. No, but I tell her a donkey and a horse can. We wonder if a cat and a tiger could. She asks if two women or two men know. I say, 'they can't make a baby together.' She says, 'I know. But can they have sex?' Yes, I tell her. She says, 'I wouldn't mind being a lesbian, but I think the hard part about it would be finding other people who want to be lesbians too.'

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Fierce Night

Avery had bad dreams last night. He says 'I had a fierce night.'
He dreamed he was in his room and he was stuck. 'I cried out Daddy! I growed and growed and growed. I cried out Daddy and he said, Ssh, I'm coming, I'm coming. He came into my bedroom and I had a good dream then.'
Avery is scared of giants. He asks me if I am a giant.
I say, 'I am quite a small grown up.'
I say, 'There are no giants, really. Not really giants.'
And he says, 'Yes there are. There are.' And he doesn't believe me about dinosaurs, or dragons, or zombies either.
He pretends he is a zombie.
He tells me the problem with being a zombie is that brains are quite sticky and they get on your hands. I can see how that would be a problem.
He says, 'A is for me. A is for me.'
He says to Lili, 'My mummy loves me. Watch.' He turns to me. 'Mummy do you love me?'
'Yes,' I say.
He turns back to Lili, 'See.'
At creche I whisper in his ear, 'I love you.'
He ducks his chin into his shoulder. He says to Dawn, 'She loves me.'
I say to him when he lies in bed at night ready to go to sleep, 'I will sing you three songs.'
He says, excited, 'I'm three!'

Monday, September 08, 2014

This House of Grief

Sometime in the mid 90s, when I was around 20, there was an accident in Hobart. A woman was driving her mother and her two small children in Hobart. She had an epileptic fit at the wheel and drove into the docks. Two young men, around my age, dived into the greasy water after them.

The story was that, when they reached the car, the two women in the front seats of the sinking car urged them to save the children. The young men managed to get the kids out and swim them to safety, the car sank and the driver and her mother were drowned.

I knew people who knew those two young men - it was Hobart and we were about the same age, so this was inevitable. I heard that the young men were cynical about the media or the public calling them heroes. They had saved the children, but they hadn't saved the women. Perhaps they felt they had, at least in part, failed, or perhaps they were angry that more people hadn't come to their aid. I remember hearing that the women had wound down the windows to let the young men get the children, which is what caused the car to sink. But what else could they have done?

This memory played through my mind constantly as I read This House of Grief by Helen Garner, the retelling of the Robert Farquharson trial. On Father's Day in 2005 he drove into a dam with his three boys in the car, claiming later to have passed out during a coughing fit. His very strange behaviour after the car goes into the dam (he freed himself, flagged down a car and insisted on being driven to his ex-wife's house) is bewildering. But Garner wonders aloud often in the book if it is a myth that parents will always put the lives of their children before their own. Are our survival instincts more selfish than that? You can see why the other story played on my mind.

The book is easy to read, large font, wide margins and Garner's effortless, addictive prose. And the book is difficult to read. More than once I sat breathing, the book closed on my lap. The catharsis when it comes is swift and devastating. It took me three days to read the novel and for the whole time between reading, when I was parenting and shopping and preparing food for friends, when I was sitting in bed with my husband and three kids on Father's Day which was the middle of these three days, I carried a cold, grey dread. Pictures of my own three children, not so very dissimilar in age to the three boys, kept flickering in my head. It was with relief that finally, in the last two pages, I sobbed.

In some ways this is the slightest of Garner's extended non-fiction. She purposely avoids the trap of becoming enmeshed in 'a side', as happened in both The First Stone and Joe Cinque's Consolation where she ended up with a great deal of access to one version of events and shut out of another. Garner seems less intimately involved, more able to detach herself. She carries the weight of the case, but is unburdened by the sense of responsibility to the 'truth' that dogged her in the aforementioned earlier works. In fact there are moments of palpable relief when she reminds herself that it is not up to her to decide if he's guilty or innocent. But she still brings herself in to the story. She toys with possible versions of events - she wonders at one stage, for example, if the boys were fighting, relaying her own anecdote of the sort of blind momentary rage that clouds us when we're actively parenting (or, in her case, grandparenting). She seems to be the only one who allows that Farquharson could have both loved his boys and killed them. The possibility that it was Tyler, the middle child, and not the eldest, Jai, that unbuckled the infant, Bailey, is a shadow that flickers through the last section of the book, barely attended to, but clearly shocking to both Garner and myself. She stays on the surface of the material, not allowing herself to get dragged down into it. This is clearly self-protective, if not also deliberately protective of those more intimately involved in the case than she.

Sometimes Martin will come across me in tears over an article in the online news, usually over the death of a child. Don't read it, he'll say. He says, I never read that stuff. I don't know why I do, except, as Garner points out at the end of This House of Grief, these small dead children, they belong to all of us.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Avery on the prospect of giving up the dummy

 Why do you like your nunny? Cause I like it. Cause I can bring it to Penny and Olive’s house. I just like it. Write Mummy loves me I love her. 
Is it sweet or savoury? Sweet. Warm. 
Will you be sad when you don’t have a nunny anymore? *Nods.* 
How can I help you not be sad? *Shrugs.*

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

The Writer's Blog Tour

Thanks to Snazzy Delicious, I mean Sarah Dollard, for tagging me in The Writer's Blog Tour.  I love a bit of fellow-writer sanctioned procrastination. I mean, isn't it great that we are all supporting each other by drawing attention to the community of ideas in which we all dwell? I kind of want to be Sarah now, but I will keep pretending I am me for long enough to answer these questions.

What am I working on?

Horyzons, Latitudes, Meridian, Altitude. I am working at Orygen Youth Mental Health, writing psychological interventions for young people with psychosis and depression and for their carers. Amazing project that came into my life at a time when I was my own wellbeing journey. Now I'm learning a lot about wellbeing and mental health and really enjoying collaboration after being basically self employed since 2000. If you're going to go back to the workplace after 14 years, I highly recommend working for psychologists who specialise in positive psychology. Amazing flexibility too. And super! I am almost old now (40 this year!) and super is a thing. Status: ongoing

The Endsister. Online novel being delivered chapter by chapter on the weekends, published on Storybird. Lots of fun. Ghost story. Several protagonists ranging in age from 4 to middle-aged. Status: My happy place.

80s Dark Pastoral semi-autobiographical political coming of age novel. Great working title huh? Catchy. This is the Bill Henson novel I always sort of wanted to write about art, children, politics, sexuality, the gaze, suburbia, pedophilia and the nuclear (in every sense of the word) family. It is also probably the most personal thing I've written and also the one requiring the most research. Australia Council endorsed: I have a grant to travel to Tasmania to write it. Lookbook here. Status: Mind-mapped. Flights and accommodation booked. Back up at the ready. (Cover me, Alison. I'm going in.)

Also sort of in process (but the opposite of in progress):
The Shallow Drowned: a "New Adult" novel about a girl who works in a childcare centre on an island cut off from the rest of the world who has lost her cat and her boyfriend, goes on night time adventures looking for both, accompanied by the ghost of a girl she thinks might have hated her in high school. Atmosphere up the wazoo, but wha happen? Plan one day to make it part of a crime trilogy about violence against women with a poet-detective protagonist (see, I think poets could make good detectives. Outsider. Observer). Status: Potentially awesome. Abandoned for now.

Old Scratch: a novel about a group of children one new year's eve playing a very scary game who call up an entity called Old Scratch while their parents watching from the porch. Tried to write this as a children's novel but the mum tried to take over. Publisher politely told me it would make a good short story (cry). Plan one day to return to this, maybe as an adult novel. Status: Abandoned for now. Perfect reader, possibly only me.

The Changing Light. A book about two 12 year old boys and their girlfriend (who is a friend who is a girl) who (spoiler) dies. It's really about how young boys becoming men are conditioned by society to respond to grief. It's also just about the sadness of the end of childhood. An idea I've been pushing around for about 10 years, was going to write this after Undine, but then Undine became the first in a trilogy because of reasons. Tried writing it as middle fiction, then YA with flashbacks, back to middle fiction. Status: Argh. 

Phew, are you still reading along? NEXT QUESTION!

How does my work differ from others in my genre?
I am not sure I care! I do think Australian YA has always been different to commercial YA in other territories, more experimental, character driven, raw and real, able to tell an emotional arc without relying on heavy issues or "concept" narratives. I'd be proud to be considered part of that tradition. But some people tell me I'm a grown up writer in denial.

Why do I write what I do?
The short answer is I write to work out what I think about stuff. It takes me a long time. This is why I am not a journalist and probably why I need to wallow around in the long form of the novel. For example, the Dark 80s Pastoral is based on some of my complicated feels about Bill Henson, which I blogged about in 2008. 

How does my writing process work?
Sometimes it doesn't. See above. Sometimes I plan, sometimes I write without a plan. I think I am best with a half plan with lots of space to move around inside. Usually I write from beginning to end, but that wasn't the case with Only Ever Always. Sometimes I write the first page last.

The next novel I write (the 80s dark pastoral) I plan to observe my process with curious compassion and learn more about myself as a writer.

You're it!
So now to the tagging! Two of these tags is sanctioned and the other not because she is on some remote tropical island with a new hairdo. Because of this her penance is being tagged.

I asked three people who are intertwined with three different parts of my life.

Eliza Osborn is a freelance writer turned novelist originally from South Carolina, where she spent her childhood riding horses and reading books. She has lived in Colorado, Florida, and Tennessee (and roamed around southern Ontario, Canada, for a month one summer in high school). Eliza now resides in Youngstown, Ohio, with her daughter (who she homeschools) and her husband. She is currently writing a serialized novel, THE MYSTERY OF DOGWOOD CROSS at

Chris Miles writes and designs things. He has written for the best-selling Zac Power series, and two of his non-fiction books for younger readers — Who’s on the Money? and Stuck on History, both published by Black Dog Books — have been listed as Children’s Book Council of Australia Notable Books. His short fiction and other writings have appeared in Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine, Materiality, Crank, Antipodean SF, Visible Ink, The School Magazine and the Black Dog Books anthologies Short and Short and Scary. He works as a website designer and developer, and in his spare time he indulges his love of Doctor Who, LEGO®, Dungeons & Dragons and anchovies. He is a dog person (though not literally). Spurt: a balls and all story is his first novel for teenagers.

C. S. Pacat is a friend who I first encountered as a student. She is a rising star who is already famous on the Internet and about to take the book world by storm, having sold her trilogy to a bunch of open-mouthed fannish publishers who clearly love her as much as I do. Because she's on a desert island, I shall let this quote, nicked off Goodreads, stand in for her bio. 

“I like writing that is restrained and invisible. I don't mean that I like things to be simple and easy to decode, the opposite. I like writers who deal with ambiguities, biased viewpoint and subjective truth; I like the writing to be clean but everything behind the writing to be complex. I like to feel that there are things going on in the spaces and behind the lines.” C. S. Pacat.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Storybird: the Endsister

One of the best things about being a writer is that every now and then an email lands in my inbox from an interesting person involved in an interesting project asking if I want to get involved.

Last year, I got an email from Molly O'Neill, who I knew on the Internets, and also through Greenwillow, the US publishers of Undine and Breathe. She had a new job, working with Storybird. I was familiar with Storybird, Martin had an account already and had used it with the girls. It's a site where kids can make their own picture books, using art supplied by illustrators, writing their own text. It's got a really active community and they've done an amazing job with keeping it positive and friendly, looking after their very young users security. As far as social media for young people go, the thing I like about it is that it's centred around meaningful work and creativity. It's about sharing stories, accessing a feedback loop, and creating not in a vacuum but in a community.

Storybird, Molly told me, were rolling out a longform publishing platform that they wanted to test with a few sample authors, some already published and some keen Storybird users. Would I like to be part of an experiment, writing a serialised story that would be published on Storybird week by week? I was invited because Molly knew and liked (shucks) my writing and also because they knew there was a big Australian userbase already on Storybird. And–


The next step was to sign a non-disclosure agreement. So I have been waiting MONTHS to break this news.

They asked me to pitch an idea. I had a look through my computer and remembered a story I sketched out ages agot. I wanted to write something Fred (11) and Una (8) could read. I wanted to write an old fashioned ghost story and an 'ensemble' type family story of the Noel Streatfeild oeuvre, but also with a contemporary fresh twist like Hilary McKay's Casson series. I wanted the sort of novel I could write to the background tune of family chaos.

After Molly wrote to tell me they'd accepted my pitch (hoorays!), they asked me to choose an illustrator. I pored over the images on Storybird and eventually the earthy, whimsical images by Victoria Usova seemed the perfect fit to the book I was holding in my head. It was funny getting character illustrations from her before I started writing, she helped give me a stronger sense of who they were and how they were connected to each other.

The novel is called The Endsister. (Loyal Eglantine's Cake readers might remember a poem I posted on this site with the same name. It's still there if you want to go looking, but I am not going to link to it because it is ever so slightly spoilery.)

I did quite a lot of thinking and planning before beginning in April, but I've also tried to keep it loose and open. I am writing it week by week, listening very carefully to the chapter as it tells itself in my head, then on the seventh, sitting down and writing in one go. It is the most productive and enjoyable writing I have done probably since Avery was born.

Then I read the chapter aloud to Una and Fred before posting it, which gives me a chance to notice awkward phrasing, or missed words.

Then I press publish.

The story quietly began going up four weeks ago, at the time of writing this post, I've just submitted chapter five to the moderators. There's been a steady stream of readers and commenters, it is both exciting and scary to have access to that sort of immediate feedback and, gulp, data.

They've just launched all the titles officially, here's their blog post about it. So finally I get to tell you all about it!

Please feel free to ask questions in the comments or on Twitter and I'll answer them in a future blog post.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Avery Miles Mrs Jorgensen

My name is Avery.
My name is Avery Miles.
My name is Avery Miles Mrs Jorgensen.

Avery: Servant!
Me: Yes, Master?
Avery: No, I'm your majesty
Martin: Yes, your majesty?
Avery: I'm not your majesty. I'm Mummy's majesty.

Saturday, March 01, 2014

Thursday, February 20, 2014

I Three Years Old

Avery and I head off for an evening walk. 
'There's Frieda's house,' he says. 
'Yes, and who else?' We list the names of Frieda's brothers and parents. It seems like a lot of people for one house, the same number we have in our own home.
'I want to go see Frieda.'
I say it's too late. They'll be finishing their dinner, getting ready for bedtime.
We keep walking. I say, 'And a little boy lives in this house whose the same age as you.'
'Who lives here?' Avery says, as we reach the next house.
'I don't know.'
He wants to walk in the gutter. I like hearing him say 'cutter'. We look for kangaroos and see none, but we see lots of kangaroo poo. We hear birds in the trees, singing their sun going down songs.
We walk a while more and turn around to come home. He wants to go visiting. He picks a house and says let's go there. He says, let's go see Frieda.
I say, 'Everybody's having dinner and getting ready for the bed. It's the end of the day.'
He nods. He says, 'is it the end of the story too?'
Yes. I nod. I say, 'It's the end of the story. It's the end of the story of the day.'

Thursday, January 30, 2014

A complete guide to missing

A complete guide to missing
Follow the corner
search the thinking chairs,
open the surroundings
vacuum pets
small children
your boundary
with hopes of a tiny piece of breath,
accept the possibility that it's
high and low, here and there, in and out,
and you've come up with avenues
If you believe your puzzle was never there
then see
you've already constructed the however.

A "cut up" poem using text from this site.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Rapunzel Retold

Nothing would take hold
inside my flesh. Babies turned
upside down and drowned.

I went to the witch
Looking for a magic word
to grow a daughter

The word on my tongue:
Rapunzel. Bitter weed
so close I could taste.

My belly grew, pear
ripening, a marvel, still
the pain of wanting.

I could not deny
what the body needed
to keep her living.

I wailed for her.
My husband brought in armfuls.

Drizzled with bee juice.
Cooked in oil, or taken raw
dirt clinging to the roots

Moons came and went
Sky rolling in waves. Such pain
but the good kind. Blessed.

One perfect day.
We joked my milk would run green.
She was so thirsty.

What a marvel, hey?
Did you ever see a baby
born with so much hair?

Monday, January 27, 2014

Sunday, January 19, 2014


Last thing
Last night
Last minute
Last dance
Last drinks
Last chance
Last train

At long last

Last week
Last year

Every last drop

Last kiss
Last days
Last laugh
Last hurrah

Nothing can last forever

Last ditch attempt
Last tango in Paris
Last man standing
Last temptation

Nice guys finish last

Last resort
Last stand
Last gasp

Last I heard

Last meal
Last breath
Last legs
Last words
Last rites
Last post

Last but not least

Last line

It's our last night in St Andrews. I feel like I've written the sad poems about saying goodbye, so I just played with the idea of last tonight. Still I feel that something needs to be said about endings and beginnings. Most of my blogging life has happened here. I blogged when we bought the house and when we moved in. I blogged the bushfires and when Snappy died and I didn't blog when the neighbour's boy drowned but I did blog the poems Frederique wrote for me the morning after, when she could barely write, because my sadness was so palpable. My father-in-law died when we lived here and my half sister too and my mother fought breast cancer

And of course, Avery was born and the house became too small to accommodate us all.

And there were the tiny moments. Everyday life went past, ordinary and miraculous

We've loved living here and I know we'll all miss this house, but we are exciting about the move, fifteen minutes down the road in the car, on the trainline, still surrounded by trees and hills. 

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Sister nothing

Sister nothing,
the book is Alice
considering her own
daisy-chain trouble

the waistcoat-pocket world found suddenly,
a moment falling,
the deep, slowly coming dark.

maps and pictures, pegs,
orange disappointment,
jar of killing somebody,
cupboards of tumbling down stairs,
earth, Longitude, Latitude.

Words to fall through,
fancy air.
Think girl, never ask.

I see it written.
an erasure poem, taken from the first page of Alice in Wonderland

Friday, January 17, 2014

bug that flies into the light and stays there

Today I spent seven hours in a suburban shopping mall
with three children, forty four degrees outside
the last day of a week long heatwave we had lunch in the foodcourt
and I settled my three kids at a table with chicken and chips
and walked to another shop to buy coffee and a salad
well the three year old walked around the tables saying
‘have you seen my mother she went shopping and she disappeared’
and the ten year old followed behind and explained
that I was just over there, and grandmothers frowned and smiled
and it’s a wonder no one called the police even though really
the kids were quite safe it was just a bit crowded and I didn’t
notice the three year old slide down from his seat
because I was watching my coffee being made 
then we were sitting and eating and the three year old  ran off to 
play at the jungle gym and one girl ran off to see what movies were on 
and the other went to spend her pocket money at Smiggle
I was alone but pulled apart in three directions
then a lady asked for my table and I felt like I was giving up something important, 
but I couldn’t say no, so I bussed my own crockery,
tipping the last of my wilting salad into the bin and stood in the middle
of nowhere, checking weather apps on my phone, looking at the fires
near home and waiting for them all to come back to me
there was a bird trapped in the food court, fluttering into the walls,
also seeking shelter from the heat, the cleaner rang some kind of central office
and asked if there was a protocol for birds and I was concerned to overhear
there’s not and I thought here I am in a place between living and death,
a holding pattern, a neutral existence, and I will transcend or descend
outside the city holds the heat, distant, white, shimmering