The mid-1970’s a brief interlude
Keynesian economics has lied – monetarism yet to promise
rock music stumbles from centre stage. Disco waits.
High school almost history. Buoyant selfishness. Surly wisdom.
Everything is dumb
nothing is sacred.
Before departure one last ritual
a school field trip
spiritual, not temporal.
Retreat was the name used by school authorities.
It was – to the 1950’s. God. Sin. Punishment.
Trainer wheels are removed for this worthy cause
normally reluctant parents loan cars
trust eliminates the chaperone of supervised transport.
After everything has been cleaned, placed in arrival order
and release is authorized
defiant instinct leads to a bar.
Age necessitates a challenge to the law.
A second, then third round
tables evidence that bravado was not temporary.
Depletion of funds provides the excuse
honour is saved, we can leave on our terms.
At the city edge a cemetery and stop for necessity
eight stand along a wire strand fence
and anoint the soil.
Atop a gentle rise a funeral party
the juxtaposition hilarious to adolescents.
For the remaining weeks of school the contrast frequently recounted
a top 40 hit endlessly played.
Two and a half years later the
suffix teen has been eliminated from my age
a quiet boy from our year who wasn’t there that day
is drowned by serious chance . . . and casual safety.
To the student community it was an annual prank
to the coroner it was misadventure.
Three former classmates attend the church service
tributes turn sadness into sorrow then grief.
Outside, sunshine and family members
foggy reintroductions, awkward platitudes, close study of the ground.
Afternoon light illuminates sodality’s incomplete goodbye
a rapid tripartite conference and unanimity to follow the fading hearse.
A convoy of vehicles keeps time with the sedate leader
through a lattice of fine homes and mature trees
past playgrounds and playing fields
the waypoints of childhood and youth
ghosting through the suburbs to an interchange. And the corridor south.
Finality gathers pace and surges at freeway speed
to the city edge
and a cemetery.
Well shod feet crunch sober gravel
shuffle over subdued grass
to a mound of earth and hushed circle.
Deeply intoned prayers, mournful responses
ceremony trails into head bowed reflective silence.
Solemnity, reverence, respect. And an accusing fence.
For the back story click Backstage
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