Tuesday, March 17, 2015

The Collector

In the distress of turning seventy-five and losing her driver's license, Marjorie was forced to walk to the shops every day for groceries, to the bank, chemist or her most important stop, Good Sammy's.
    In previous years she hadn't noticed all the street litter scattered throughout her town. Her journeys had always been viewed from inside, on plush leather seats, with the immensity of the landscape flashing by from tinted windows or through windscreen wipers on foggy, winter mornings.
    On foot, she walked past rubbish that was left where it couldn't possibly find its own strategy to leave. Mostly, the littered items were cigarette butts, plastic bags, bottles, packaging and take-away food containers. In the local park she felt the hooded presence of vandalism: broken glass, graffiti, and two swings left twisted into an inaccessible knot on the top crossbar. Marjorie cared that the broken glass was dangerous, especially for school children, other elderly pedestrians and the local tom cats.
   It annoyed her that on rubbish days, the wheelie bins overflowed with smelly foodstuff, attracting the crows. 'Look at this,' she allowed herself to call out. 'Bread crusts, tomato ends, soggy paper, sticking to my good shoes. Be damned!'
   She carried small amounts of shopping back from the supermarket and an extra rolled bag for the rubbish. In her exuberant way it was to avenge those who littered. With her full water bottle, she washed the exterior of plastic bottles or cans, and also rinsed her fingers before placing a dirty carton or chocolate wrapper inside.
   Each day she went shopping, she picked up litter that was in her reach, and returned with it. Each day it was a collection of recycling: paper scraps, plastic, Big Mac polystyrene. Marjorie avoided the broken glass for fear of cutting herself.
   When she arrived home, she opened the garage door and threw the full plastic bag inside. It landed with a clunk on top of the car.
   She squeezed back the front door. Everything was inert and too big to pass by, so she climbed over a stack of junkmail, cardboard boxes, pizza boxes and newspapers. After she had put the cold items in the fridge, Marjorie felt the comforting seasons of everything accumulated. The deceptive tenderness of handmade cushions, crochet, children's clothes, stuffed toys, quilts and embroidery. She sat down on a giant bag of clothes that was plumb with junk mail, old catalogues and kitchen cloths. She picked up her knitting that spread the length of the sitting room, and struggled with the red wool that had snared behind the couch.
    Tired from her day's collecting, Marjorie groped her way upstairs, moving slowly step over step as one does over a thousand dangers. She lay on her double bed, dominated with the forlorn glad-rags of time; the empty shapes of coats, skirts, blouses, furs, hats and dresses and fell into a deep, comfortable sleep.


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Published by Australian Poetry Centre, Melbourne

of Arc & Shadow

of Arc & Shadow
Published by Sunline Press, WA

The Joyous Lake

Par écrit

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Helen Hagemann, MBA(Wrtg) ECowan. Her first literary collection, Evangelyne & other poems, was published by the Australian Poetry Centre in their New Poets Series 2009. 'of Arc & Shadow' is her second full collection published by Sunline Press. She has two e-books, The Joyous Lake & Par écrit: poetry of the feminine @ http://issuu.com/evangelyne/​​docs/joyous_lake/

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