Having too much or too little?

“Too much!” I say to my 16-year-old. We have too much.
Don’t waste your food, eat what’s on your plate, I reiterate. Not because I am necessarily super altruistic about food waste—to me, it’s the “principal of the thing” –it affects us all—When one is a parent-one tries to set an example, teach right from wrong, good from bad, waste from conservation. Principals are tricky to teach-It’s more about action—how parents behave and act. How your parents acted-How you set an example for your kids through your actions. Words are a waste, we use them meaninglessly and ceaselessly. Indiscriminately.

I wish for the day when I can implement one Day of Silence at our house. To do so everyone in the household has to be in on it. To not speak for a day, a week, a fortnight. I do it at a retreat I go to three times a year. One goes about their daily routine, food is eaten with relish. It is as if we are down to the bare essentials on how to live well. We chew food properly until it’s masticated in our mouth, then swallowed, Movement is measured, thought about.

Beds are made, dishes are washed. Baths are taken. All this is done with reverence, respect and sparingly. After the retreat do we continue the silence for a week at home? I’d like to, if the family is up for it. I go to work. At work, the noise of voices overwhelms me! It appears to me that I am listening to gibberish. If speaking is having too much, I’ll take too little.

At home, my daughter joins me for lunch. We don’t speak a word to each other. We finish what’s on our plates, blow flying kisses with a wave goodbye! The economy of restraint. Maybe this is the way to live. Maybe. I look down at the floor and notice a tiny morsel of food dropped from one of our plates, I pick it up and feed it to the cat.

 

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Road Trip

Short days in Michigan
the leaves turn
colours similar to the ones
in that far away island during the
dry season — the red earth
hot underfoot — crackles
as the leaves drop
making a mound
Smoothies drunk in a café
contain this richness of
colour.
The liquid slides down
the throat and a coat is buttoned
Outside the air freezes
Smoke blows from the mouth
Cigarette tossed on the ground

The old man mowing his lawn
Wearing his slate cashmere V-neck with
holes under the arms, has never bothered
to get the thing darned.
It is the season to shoot
Gun in hand, A-k47 in another
Looking for Rabbit, Deer, Bear.
Somewhere a man is shot
Billy wears a brown, round, wool neck sweater
that keeps him warm.
and camouflages him well.
No-one mentions the time he was at
The creek – a body floated up, face down –
bloated and gross from
being in the river for over a week.
The sheriff hushed It up,
Billy was his son, you see.

The man was someone’s son too.
remains cried over by mothers
Of son’s they can’t recognise
The Sheriff wore a red wool sweater
beautiful to look at; a man with manners
The County respected him.
The sole reason the body story was
Buried. His word was final.
The army commander’s word
Was final, too. No identification, woman.
We bury them all together

Autumn in Michigan, meant road trips—-a six pack of
Molson in the car– Ruben sandwiches, girlfriends.
We’d sing to Joni Mitchell and Carol King—
perfect tunes for a fall sunset
that seemed to last forever. At night, Deborah Harry
blasted from the CD deck the stars shining brightly.
Autumn in Sri Lanka meant the north east monsoon
We hit the road a case of Heineken in the jeep
Vernon driving east stopping at all the security
Check points. Men with guns probing
Ethnicity an issue and the case of beer slowly emptied
By us, thirst parched and scorched
The dry zone beckoned.
The landscape: endless, stark, beautiful,

Murugan’s country like no other.
the sun set’s in the west
stopping every 100 meters looking for
elephant, deer, bird life of all description
army blowing hot. ID, please
Red brown yellow orange
cocooned us as night fell
yet, the incessant stopping.
Petrol was running out
Finally, over the bridge to the Bay.
We drove right up to the the beach
Full moon directly above in the sky
We could almost smell it.
Off came our sticky clothes,
To dive into the warm Indian ocean
It was midnight 16 hours later
The seduction was dazzling
The salt water melted off our bodies
The beer, finished

We did not need the moon or headlights to show us the way.

she wore her purple sweater, made of Angora.
It smelled of perfume: Opium.
At Last, San Francisco
We drove to Full Moon Beach.
Threw our sweater’s off
And with it our youthful emotional angst
The water was cold.
We could very well had been swimming in
Lake Michigan—
Except for the unforgettable Road Trip.
2261 miles of it.

Isabella at 21

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Isabella at 21
Is very beautiful
kind and all woman
she nurtures she cares
for everyone.
Her nature from birth

Has been one of
A sunny disposition.
She is also very smart
(she doesn’t think so)
But, we know so.

Her self-depreciating characteristic
Is typical of a Ceylonese
Especially from an Anglican
School
Such as Ladies College.

Isabella is a bella
The belle of the ball
In my book for sure
I would cast her
As the central character
She is unique

Extremely likeable
And resourceful.
21 years old.  I’ve had the
pleasure of spending
quality time
with her in Melbourne
for a week.

I note that she is interested in most things
Especially the arts
After we shopped we sat down and listened
To a musician busking
She then pointed out the MOMA exhibit
And there is one in Brunswick.

She has left me now in Melbourne.
She has gone back to Brisbane
I’ll be leaving on a plane
This Friday. Back to where I came from
Where Isabella was born
CEYLON