This Time Around

This time around has it gone so grey that my faith can’t hold out?
Haven’t you heard there’s a somber wind gets my head away now
***
I don’t wanna try no longer your songbird singing the darkest hour of the night
I don’t wanna find that I’ve been marching under the crueler side of the fight
It makes me want to cry
The Time Around, Jessica Pratt
There’s something about a windy, spring day.  It’s unsettling.  The way it whips snatches of sound from far across the neighbourhood right to your ear, or makes it hard to hear conversation just a metre away.  A windy, spring day has the same scattered, frustrating feel as sweeping leaves in a gust.  Your thoughts and ideas will not form and instead side with the constantly resisting wind.
*
I notice who is at the edge of the scene when I walk to work.  The edge of the scene in Newtown, or down Courtney Place.  The centre is held by the cars.  The noisy, assertive cars are taking people to work and school in the morning; bringing them home in the evening.  On the footpaths people walk to school or to the bus stop to go to work.
*
But the centre cannot hold.  Peripheral to the road and the footpath is the man who sits in the doorway of the derelict shop in dirty clothes with thick, grimy hair.  I think he’s 30.  About 30.  He looks angry, and sometimes gets up and walks to the corner where a set of traffic lights rotate, halt and release the streams of traffic.  If I walked another way I would pass two people who sleep in the doorway of another derelict building, a few doors down from the office of the local MP.  They string up a rope and hang a blanket between them and the footpath and we –  the ones in the centre of the scene of life – can all pretend that they aren’t there behind the blanket.  On either side of the road in front of the Newtown Mall there are usually beggars.  They ask for money, and being ashamed I try not to walk past them.
*
Not that all the people I see begging are Māori, but most are.
*
I see them.  I see you.  I know what you mean.  I know how you make me feel.  I know what history looks like when it wears a human form: it sits in a car and drives to work;  it sleeps in a doorway and begs.
*
I’m sure a society based on injustices cannot be just.  I’m sure that an ideology that separates people from nature can never halt climate change.
*
I remember the man with no hands at an intersection in Delhi; a bucket over one stump beating on car windows while the passengers looked stiffly ahead.  I remember the girl, who must be a woman now, begging for food outside the bookshop in Hanoi.  I remember eating fish and drinking wine at a Michelin star restaurant in Paris.  I remember buying a Paul Smith tie in Osaka and enjoying the compliments I receive every time I wear it.  I’m reminded of the end of the world every time I roll the recycling bin to the curb.
*
A door slams somewhere and a dog barks.  There are leaves skittering across the concrete path.  A song goes around and around on the speaker,
*
I don’t wanna try no longer your songbird singing the darkest hour of the night
*
This time around.

Published by

John-Paul

I wrote a book called Kaitiaki o te Pō