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October 2014, vol 10 no 3

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Jonathan McKeown

Kind Regards

bush track
the little webs we feel
before we see

Spider webs, she said, nodding at something about my person, or so it seemed. Following her gesture back to the stick I was holding up in front of myself, 'Oh, yes,' I said, suddenly seeing what she meant. I'd been deep in thought and forgotten the out-side of myself. I know that one, she said, smiling reassuringly. I returned her smile and kept walking. But now the course of my thoughts had changed. Becoming self-conscious in that other way, I realised how odd or even threatening I might have seemed in her eyes – holding a stick up like a drawn sword.

the bird that left
this thin branch rocking

She was not exactly a stranger to me. I had passed her on the track at least a dozen times, usually early in the morning, and always in the vicinity of her unleashed dog who has become a kind of harbinger. Although, to be frank, he always seems to be there on business of his own. I have startled him a couple of times – coming upon him unexpectedly – while he was deep in scent of something or other. But he has since ceased to regard me as a going concern. I have become uninteresting, or to put it blandly, known to him.

But she and I had never spoken before. Of the very few people one meets along the way fewer still are not wearing ear-phones, and of these most one greets with a simple, 'Morning, or, G'day. But there are some that a kind of intuition gives you to know better. Words were not her primary way; not here at least, or not at this time of day. No overly direct eye contact either. The occasional smile was sufficient; and even then only if the manner of our passing required it. Although I am careful not to show it (even the thought of being seen can have a disturbing effect) for me she remains one of the interesting creatures here, and worthy of a tacit regard; all the more so because she is one of the few of my own kind that frequent this place. But words, too many superfluous, anxious, incontinent words could ruin that.

the slow knock
of a frog
somewhere in the rock pool