— Betty Arnold
After six years of trying to avoid
the inevitable, I caught sight of your black jacket
in the rear of the closet.
Soft, black fleece, trimmed with russet-colored suede, hung limp
on the hanger like a ghost, but the sun drenched emblem,
Australia Downunder, beamed over the left breast.
So warm. The weather there in the desert during the day
was dry and hot. The nights biting cold. The stars seemed close enough
to reach. The constellations hung upside down in the sky.
In the northern territory, Darwin beckoned us. Forty thousand year old cave petroglyphs recorded the history of early man: his hunting, his wars, his tools. Strong and resourceful Aborigines left their mark, rock art in stone, for eternity to see.
In nearby urban areas, modern day indigenous people sat idle in back alleys,
drunk and destitute, displaced with no means of recording their existence. Dreamland mythology now only existed in tourist pamphlets at government museums.
Kookaburras called out to us from treetops with fiendish laughter. Kangaroos and joeys hopped wildly in zoos; crocs in the swamps scared us off. We snorkeled in aquamarine waters of the Great Barrier Reef where tropical fish and dying coral coexisted, never forgetting this was home to the great white shark.
The Sydney Harbour BridgeClimb was a feat to be reckoned with if one dared to reach the summit, scrambling along outer arches on catwalks and ladders, with jumpsuit and harness secured. We chose to relax in the Opera House and enjoy Ravel and Liszt.
All time stood still in Australia’s red center. We watched the sunset on Uluru Rock. The intensely colored, red sandstone rock we couldn’t resist climbing. At the top, a small puddle of rainwater collected in a hollow, called to you to taste its essence. After dipping your fingers into the cold water, then to your lips, you told me you felt one with the sacred stone.
Clinging to your jacket, I feel the oneness. This is all I now have left. The russet- colored trim reflecting sunset on Uluru Rock. The place where all time stood still.