Thursday, July 26, 2012

Little Mother

LITTLE MOTHER  - Kupu kupu


(Notes: 1. written for my mother in Jakarta in January 2006 when I was unable to attend her funeral. 2. while its not a brilliant poem (perhaps it's more of a song) and is hampered by the rhyming form, it expresses the feelings I still have about her passing and the strangeness of not officially farewelling her).  

Where are you now little mother

Where have you gone?
Are you floating about in the ether
Are you feeling happy and strong
Where are you now my best mum
Where can you be?
When will you be sending a message to me?

Are you up in the clouds looking down
Are you drifting on an airstream
Just wandering around
Are you waving at me madly only I can’t see
That you’re standing right in front of me?

Where are you now little mother?
Where are you now?

Did you see me in my kost room getting the call
That you’d finally decided to leave us all
When my watch stopped dead in middle of the night
Was that you telling me you’d be alright
Did you see my tears, my disbelief
Knew you had to go, but did you have to leave?
Where are you now little mother?

Did you see me jump in a taxi next day
To go to the Chinese temple to pray
In a  klenteng full of smoke and incense
Little mother did it make any sense
To pray to ceramic buddhas in that way?
Where are you now little mother?

And with some friends we prayed to Allah
And others back home doing all kinds of  mantra
Did it make any difference
Or was that just for us
To feel like we were making some kind of fuss
Cos little mother you didn’t care for religious stuff
Like heavens and hells and all that guff
Your life was a hell, you told us often enough
Have you left that hell behind little mother?

And did you see me smsing my kids on the day
They waved as your coffin slowly drove away
Did you follow the hearse to the crematorium
Or were you already far, far, away gone?
But where to little mother?

And do you watch me in this Jakarta town
Is that you following me around
As I ride in taxis, walk the street
Greeted by everyone I meet
Hello Mrs, Hello Mr
Dari mana, where you from
Where you going, what you doing
Please sit down
Have a drink
You like our country, what you think?

Were you sitting with me then, little mother
As we compared notes with one another
And were you touched, little mother
Just like me
By their warm generosity?

And little mother do you hear the morning prayer
As it cuts through the cool morning air
And the morning sellers as they come
Loudly proclaiming to everyone
Roti Roti Roti Roti Roti
Dong dong dong, dong dong dong
Dong dong dong dong, dong dong
Ding ding ding tok tok tok
And it’s still only 6 o’clock
The bubur man on his motor bike
Like a frog croaking in the night
Bubur bubur ayam bubur
Bubur bubur ayam bubur

Then all the women coming out
Like Mary Magdelenes so devout
Their beauty framed by colours strong
As they gracefully walk along
And men on motor bikes taking kids to school
Can you see it little mother
Can you see it all?

And out into the macet
To be carried away
On the sea of moving metal
As they do everyday
Just to get to work, to get their meagre pay
And under the tall freeway pylons
Tired mothers, sick babes in arms
Tap at car windows hopefully
To move someone with their mournful plea
Can you help them little mother?
Can you help them?

And so on and on into the day
And everyone still finds time to pray
On and on, to the mall
Where Ibu Ibu meet to tell all
Where you can swish about in luxury
Safe from the seething human sea
Tell me little mother can you see it too?

Can you see the buses full
Can you see the bajais spluttering
In the sky, tiny kites fluttering
Little boys hold the string
Way down in the in the crowded kampong
As if to say
One day I will fly
Fly away above this place
To a sky so free and spacious
Is that like you little mother?
Is that like you?

And when the sky turns blazing red
And all good children are in bed
And when the night begins to fall
Do you see them, do you see them all
All the night workers waking up
Just in time for evening prayer
Before they go to work 'out there'
To make a dollar in a crowded bar
Accompanying bule flown in from afar
To ride the sex world underground
Where you can taste anything you please
Russian, Korean, Japanese
And satisfaction will be yours for sure
Just leave your wallet at the door
Did you see them little mother did you see?

Did you see the muso’s trundling home
From their five star hotel gigs?
Artists, writers talking late
In crowded cafes on the street
Pece lele, soto ayam
All night at the roadside warung
And finally catching a bluebird home..
Were you with me as we took the toll again
How many miles have I travelled alone
Speeding into a night that stretches so far
Lights of apartment buildings rising tall
Out of low tin house swamps with kerosene lamp
Breathing bodies rest in a corner of damp
And the glittering lights of the mall never go out
Promising that one day you can have it all
Do you think so little mother?
Do you think so?

And did you see me little mother,
Shaking in my bed
When I thought the roof would come crashing in on my head
As the sky cracked and groaned in an angry roar
And the heavens above started to pour
Washing the sins of the city away
Into drains and canals, like a lava flow
And with it every bit of plastic that will go
Where does it go, little mother
Do you know?

And did you come with me across the strait
Arriving at the tinkling gate
Of the favorite Bali isle

Did you fly above the crowded street
As the cremation procession wound its way
At the temple did you see
Two old ladies of royalty
Placed in their sarcophagi
The proud black bulls standing tall
As fires were lit at their feet
And slowly flames began to creep
And lick and burn and leap up high, into the cloudy Ubud sky

And did you see the bodies start to appear,
Blackened skin and stringy hair
Tough and stubborn, strong as leather
Was that how they went through their life together

And little mother, did your body burn like this
Or was it over all too quick
With just a workman standing there
Scratching his crotch and then his hair
And in a jiffy you were done
Into the grinder, here comes another one?

I’m sorry little mother I wasn’t there, to carry you all the way to the end
But then little mother you never were one, to stand on formal ceremony
You would have said:
“Heavens don’t bother with any of that
 For god sakes I’ll be dead!”

But that’s the trick I can’t quite get
Because now you’re gone
Your presence seems stronger

Is it true little mother, is it you little mother:

The tiny kitten on my door mat, was that you little mother
The finches on the window pane
That  come to visit again and again
The butterflies in the sawa, I've never noticed them before
But I met a man who opened my eyes
To all the glorious  kupu kupu
Are you that man?
How can that be?
But perhaps you sent this man to me
Because he is excited just like you
About birds and butterflies and all wild flowers 
And he can talk for hours and hours and never miss a single beat
As he strides the paddies in his gnarled bare feet

And as we walked and as we talked I started to see you everywhere
I realised you’d come back to earth as quickly as you'd left us here.
Flitting about every flower as always was your wont.
There you were in many colours, many patterns on your wings,
Dancing, prancing in front of me, then disappearing on a whim.

I feel you mother, everywhere, flapping on the wind
You are the wind, you are the rain, you are every little seed.
You are all around me little mother
You are on every breeze
Your arms around me, little mother
Your arms around me tight
I know you are a butterfly flapping in the night.
I know your life is over, just when it’s begun
And you roll into your cocoon again
And come back as another one.
And you fill the air with butterflies of every single shade
And I feel you mother, on my skin
Like the moment I was made

By you, little mother
By you

Stay close little mother
I’m here little mother
Be near little mother
My strong little mother

Kupu kupu.

(Jakarta 2006).

Monday, June 13, 2011

My Mother Marjorie Mum

                                 Marjorie Jean Gingell was  born in 1918 in Camperdown, Victoria.
                                 Mother Jeanie Gingell, house wife, piano player, singer.
                                 Father James (Jimmy) Gingell, station master.

                            Marjorie Jean, known to her friends as 'Jing' in her 20's.
                            Studied at Melbourne Teachers College which is where she met ...

           Chas (Charles) Roland Cornall, born September 13, 1918 in Ballarat, Victoria.
           Mother, Edina Florence (Newell), shop assistant, golf and croquet champion.
           Father, Roland Cornall, Engine Driver, golf and bowls champion.