VOID: JK.Leahy Poetry
A rippling void is dancing across endless waters,
yet returning in the dark night to stab at the heart
The cold wind sings this blackness like its favourite song,
The waves join the wind to mock, jeer and keep rolling by
Birds call, keep strong! fight!
A yearn deeper than the flows of strong murky rivers pushes forward
Thoughts tug at the heartstrings, jarring it with questions and rationales
A child could only wait; for a father could speak at any time
Obsession JK. Leahy memoir
The kitchen in Bellbowrie house was marvelous. It’s Wednesday today, but the kitchen also looked marvelous on Tuesday and Monday. I simply wanted to make chicken soup tonight, but I was afraid to dismantle this piece staring at me.
I looked at the stacked white cups, plates, and silver bowls that made this strange beautiful body and then the cutlery that made its arms and legs. Each item was part of another. It was a tidy dishwasher look without all the sections, except it was arranged to come together as one piece. If I had built a kitchen sculpture like that myself, it probably would have already unraveled when I got to stacking the spoons and the forks. And right now, if I tried to remove one cup or spoon to use, the rest would come crashing down like a dismantled sculpture. My son Nathan washed our dishes sometimes, but this was not his work of art – it was clearly my mother’s. My mother is obsessed about cleanliness and obviously tidiness. She has her own unique way of doing it.
Our kitchen has been so clean and different in the past six weeks since my mother has been with us in Brisbane that I’m inspired. I made a promise to myself; I could live up to this new expectation after she leaves. May be I could cut down on writing, art, a job, the garden, birds…It was not that we lived in a dirty house, but when my mother does something, especially cleaning, she takes it to a higher level, and makes you feel really good about it.
I could not have made this kitchen any cleaner in the past five years. Mother was not only obsessed with cleanliness, but getting any job done. Her gardening was the same and she began early and worked long hours. She was determined to clean the whole area and I reminded her some parts of our place was meant to be bushy for the animals. My siblings had asked me to bring our mother away from PNG to rest – but you think she would listen to me – no. She loves working hard. She attributes her strict work ethics to her parents, nursing, and her early learning from the Germans and Americans after the war.
I was grateful for her help now, but I fear when her holiday ends, this kitchen would return to the way my sons always left it; filthy with empty containers, piled up dirty dishes, peeled purple onion shells and spilled beverages. I clean it but it was never easy to maintain that pristine state for more than two days.
I took out the thigh fillets and started making chicken soup for my mother, my younger son Chris and I. Nathan had cooked his own meals for nearly a year and since he started a special fitness programme.
Across from the kitchen, my mother was folding the clean washing. Her knitting was on the dining table, colourful and laid out in neat bundles of colours. Mother folded all our clean washing like the way a machine would have done. We did sit and tell stories while we folded, but I soon gave up folding with her because she tended to unfold and re-fold the clothes I folded. And, if I told her she wasted her time because the clothes were meant to be worn again, she just giggled and said she preferred they were ‘properly folded’.
As I watched the boiling pot of chicken soup, I pictured Mother laying out all her medical tools on the shiny trays and pushing them from ward to ward on her tall shiny trolley. She is staring ahead with her white cap and apron crisply ironed and sitting in the precise position on her green uniform. She walks with her head held high and exuding a presence of authority when all around her is turmoil. I wondered if anyone had ever messed up her display of shiny metal pieces on the trays when she was a nurse. I once asked and she told me – never!
I think Mother’s cleaning and folding obsessions started from the hospitals and later, H.C. Leo a Chinese clothing manufacturer in Port Moresby hired her to fold completed garments. She was so precise with her craft that customers thought the cellophane packed and sealed shirts were done by machines.
My mother’s dedication to what she loves doing is second to none.
(To my regular readers – I wrote this draft/story yesterday, a part of a longer piece for Isabel D’ Avila Winter and our last Creative Writing Workshop group next Tuesday in Kenmore). If you expected drama while reading this – well there is, but it is in the rest of this story in the memoir – thank you for reading).
Let’s stop violence against women and girls world-wide.
Every small step counts.
On my return home to Papua New Guinea on September 16th, it was the Independence Day. My son Chris and I were very lucky to see PNG people celebrating in their traditional costumes.
On arrival at the Jacksons International Airport, Port Moresby, our first meeting was with this stunning beauty. I wish I had taken more, but I only had time to take four photographs of this beautiful woman and rush to domestic terminal to transit to Lae. I will get her name later, that’s how PNG networking is, but she was dressed in Simbu traditional dress. I believe she was part of the Air Niugini staff and assisted the international departure passengers.
If you have any questions about her dress, ask me, but this post is purely to show the beauty of the image. When I come across moments like this, I am very proud to be a Papua New Guinean. My reasons being, we are unique people, we love our culture and we are always proud to show it.
Surrounding Beauty – JK. Leahy Poem
Life is surrounding beauty
Where crescent moon casts enough light
Your footsteps drum their own music
While walking gives life to your heart
Dead leaves dance in the breeze
Snail trail glistening in light’s reflections
Shadows creating their own art
An owl hoots and swoops low; you hear
A bat screeches that night is near
Before darkness swallows and hides you
Until new day seeks and finds you
My sons and I enjoyed our trip back to Lae, PNG – where we come from. I had not gone back to my village for seven and my sons for eight years. It was a long time. My reasons are too complicated to explain, but I could not wait any longer to return. The best part about our return was the story-telling and catching up. This was how we did it – sitting in a circle and chewing betel nut while we tell the stories. We tried to do this at least a few hours each day.
Graveyard Bog – A poem JK.Leahy©
The engine roared
The rain splashed
and the tyres spun
The night tensed
Beyond forest dense,
crosses stood tall,
like ladies in a ball
Peaceful they laid,
beneath the earth
As the sky opened,
the earth drank more
And as the car grunted,
the spirits flighted –
in the graveyard bog
(A true story. My car was bogged in the cemetery a few nights ago.)
Although it was under a sad circumstance, it was good to return to Mt Hagen town, Papua New Guinea, after almost 17 years to attend George Leahy’s funeral. The town had a dry spell, but the air was crisp and everything looked green and luscious.
This is the view from a beautiful house on the Kuta Ridge that I visited the last week. The house was built by my late cousin, Maggie Wilson. In partnership with her family and her people, she ran a successful world re-known guest house called the Haus Poroman (house of friends) for several years before she passed away a few years ago. Her eldest daughter Bernadine Danomira took me to the ridge to visit Maggie’s place and see the view once more. It was still as beautiful as I remember it.