Age eleven I sang opera like a pro,
fifteen, I learned guitar, a la Joan Baez, and painted abstracts,
loved that boy from highschool.
Eighteen I quit antibiotics –
at the kitchen table, holding my head, what could fix my chronic sinusitis?
knowing somehow, there’d be something better.
Twenties, I studied
art, vegetarianism, yoga, massage, kinesiology, homeopathy, herbs, nutrition,
worked, bits and pieces, in clinic, and had babies.
Later, sole parenting,
I bought a place in the country, using years of unpaid child support
Then stuck, I loved the bush, the snowy mountains,
the river rockpools, struggled with distances to town, school buses, roads,
local shops and friendships, but no work.
Years at uni, eventually a PhD,
the middle year I would interview poor people about complementary medicine
– they couldn’t afford private-sector practitioners.
I’d been busy, reading, summarising, writing reports,
so I promised to attend, for interest, my friend’s new poetry/songwriting group
in the local township.
First night, half-hour late,
nervous, like everyone else, I sat, waited … and one by one, carefully,
we shared, in poems, talk, and original songs …
One’s friend died of cancer, her ex-hubby has it now;
one’s bad luck in finding love since divorce; one’s house burnt down in bushfires,
now living in a truck, draws landscapes in blue biro.
One wants support for her gender reassignment, the operation
in one month, in Asia; one’s exploring ‘freedom’ from the confines of defacto
partnering, and child-rearing; another fell in love; one is afraid.
One has written the most beautiful song
ever sung – about honey bees, but leaves early – for a disabled son; one survived
cancer herself, and sings songs to make everyone cry.
One’s husband, blind from attempted suicide, plays beautiful
ocarina. And the paper I write tells how poor people make themselves well, how they
express their process, in poetry, songs, community, and friendships.