The mashed potato of the school day was over with again as the sensations of the day crashed down on me step by step along the path all the way home. Didn’t need a brain because my feet knew where they were going. Passed by the big expanse of beige. The older kids, big vinyl bags slung over shoulders, interactive sounds of challenge and bravado as they poured out of the technical college a few doors down from my junior school and spewed out into the street, onto my footpath.
I kept walking, shoes off, straps of my sandals in hand, the heat of the path causing a burning sensation as sun kissed the soles of my feet via the footpath. I stepped a while on the sun dried scratchy beige that was meant to be grass but was well over due for a drink and I busted for a Sunny Boy, cold frozen orange ice popping from the top of one of those pyramid shaped packages and turning my mouth orange, not to mention what it probably did to my brain. But I didn’t have one.
Across the tarmac, black sticky goob tar latching onto my eight year old feet like fly paper. My feet quickened across the surface, hopping up onto the semi-grass nature strip, shoes still swinging on fingers, prickly bindis spiking my feet from the dead old grass, sun crisping me, beckoning yet more freckles and turning my white body a progressively raw shade of pink. I squinted, still catching roses in my nostrils, trim lines of flower beds in front gardens numbers sixty-three, forty-seven, seventeen.
At the corner a tram rumbled by on a rattling straight line to mysterious places unknown out there in the disappearing distance of the hazy city center with its towering buildings. Around the corner, press the button, and press, and press and and and and presssssssssss. The lights spoke back changing from green to red and I crossed in between the movement of cars, standing in the spaces, navigating my maze, car horns filling the space between my ears. Past the motorcycle shop with its glossy lickable metalica and painted handwriting that glided like a dream over rounded surfaces hugging shiny silver metal.
Ming Wah, Cafe Milk Bar. I could read words and make the sounds to them and this one felt good in my mouth and rang softly in my ears with poetry. Ming Wah, Cafe Milk Bar. It had timing and rhythm and rhyme. And it smelled strange. And it was dim and beckoning with its checkerboard floor and red tassel things hanging from the ceiling, little pictures all around and gold plastic with scrolled shapes curling. Ming Wah, Cafe Milk Bar. It had allure.
I acknowledge Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people as the Traditional Owners of this country throughout Australia, and their connection to land and community.