Eight Saints and a Penis

August 29, 2011

Last week I sat in a lawyer’s conference room. The décor was clinic white, all the better to show off their art collection, two pieces of which caught my wandering eye (it was a lawyers conference after all and the first rule of listening to lawyers is that you don’t have to listen to lawyers, especially because they build a career based on the assumption that you must). The two pieces were set apart by the folded back dividing wall. A modesty screen of sorts. For the two pieces couldn’t be more diverse. One was a three piece collection of halo ensconced (female I imagined) saints posed in classic orthodox reverence. On the other side of the modesty divider is a large wooden totem from PNG, a full sized painted male figure in full frontal nudity with his penis proudly displayed and his mouth forming a round ‘O’ in apparent surprise. Over the drone of the suit up the front I fancied I heard the following conversation: Read more

Cheek by Jowl

August 28, 2011

Follow on from Knot in Stomach

It’s a natural reflex to want to hug someone in distress. I struggled with that response when dealing with the toddler a couple of days ago. His face was so banged up, bruised and bloody and impossible to touch. Yet when someone, especially a child, hurts you want to hug them close. Touch says so much more than words but it was clear I could not touch him other than to brace his neck and head with my left hand. If I wrestled with any emotion in the car it was this one. So much so I even struggled to write that into my larger narrative so left it out and sketched some notes until I had worked out what I wanted to say. And to see if I could capture what I was thinking and feeling. Read more

Knot in My Stomach

August 22, 2011

A postscript to “Blood in my Mouth

It’s the following day and I have walked around with a knot in my stomach, been flippant at work and not very productive in general.  Sorry. In the past I have done a reasonable job of keeping my emotions in check but in this case I have decided to let them wash over me. It makes for some unexpected moments especially when I conjure up the sensation of his little head cupped in my hand, feel his cool skin, and see in front of me his frightened and trusting eyes.  Read more

Blood In My Mouth

August 20, 2011

The blood in my mouth is not my own. The dry steel tang of iron was coughed and spluttered into mine by a three year old with brown tousled hair as he sat in his restrainer seat. Thank goodness for those seats. His mouth was clogged with blood and he was spitting it everywhere. He was crying, a good sign. And there was no blood coming from his ears. Another good sign as I ran through an almost subconscious checklist. Read more

The Stark Reality

August 4, 2011

Twenty years ago this year we moved our family back to Queensland, this time just creeping over the border to Ipswich rather than living in the far north which was almost like moving to another country altogether. A highlight for me was to be working with the F-111 bomber aircraft at 6 SQN. But an even more enduring highlight over the last twenty years was the friendship offered to us by the Stark family. We arrived in a new parish on the Sunday morning having dusted off the kids from a few days in a motel and landed unannounced with Jocelyn. After the service a number of folk wheeled in on us and we were quickly invited to lunch by folk I had never met in my life. I recall being somewhat startled to be not only invited back to lunch with the Starks but to walk up the stairs to see Jocelyn with her head in Ken’s lap and her feet up on the couch. They were watching TV and looked like lifelong friends. Read more