Tuesday, April 15, 2014

City Unknown

There's something in the Moreton Bay and Port Jackson fig trees which line the streets and parks of Sydney, some shuttered tension which, while still, is not waiting. A motion that is unaware of its stasis. As though these trees, with a sprawl of roots and shapes that can only be described as tendons and sinew were frozen mid-pour. All thick dark leaves, waxen and lush.

When I think of Malaysia I always recall the threat of the green. There is no stopping the growth, it overflows and erupts and encroaches and yet, the whole country carries on living perfectly functional ordinary lives as though no one has noticed the floral occupation. Sydney emulates this luscious creeping.

Then there are the frangipanis, which don't seem to know how to stop blooming. I can't relate to these flowers. They are, to me, sugar and marzipan, perfect replicas on the pages of a Woman's Day birthday cake cookbook. Yet here they are, lying crushed on the footpath, as if it is not an atrocity. The air is always thick with their joy, and it limns that sublime salt crush with rich smiles.

Magpies. They're half dressed here, having started the day wearing only their white hoods and not the accompanying cape. Other than this there is no difference in their carriage or attitude, yet this one, small, irrelevant thing unsettles me each time.

The streets twist and turn. Melbourne is a wonderfully forgiving grid, with main thoroughfares clearly marked by the presence of trams. Sydney, Sydney is, I think Sydney sneezed and ruined the topography, geography, cartography. I've never had a sense of direction, not in either side of the equator, but straight lines and landmarks have always served me well. Not here.

Melbourne now should be lovely crisp days, fog sneaking around in the mornings, cool evenings and turning leaves. My body expects this, and is flummoxed by the wet season. This is not the time of year for rain, and yet.

It isn't yet two weeks. I will learn to swim with these new currents. Eventually.

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