We follow white spots painted on trees. White spots as signposts
having been lost on this south face before. We wind up the track
which manages us only Indian file. Wind past white spots
to our secret and silent rock. Sitting and watching surrounded
by gigantic stag horns ferns and lichen vines peeling bark
and the crisp skeletons of dead lantana surgically excised from the beating bush
like heart tumours last year. The patient is doing fine.
The deluge is drying from our earth. We’ll get no rain
from a sky like this one with clouds like fish scales.
We sit on our rock framed by trees arriving with indecent haste
at their event horizon. Last week a king brown snake appeared.
Circled our rock twice. It was so long it nearly had us surrounded.
We held hands and our breath. And said nothing to anyone.
Next year I will only visit this place in my dreams and the solitude
of new beds and new women who may become transient mothers of sorts.
I must soon miss my garrulous little son rabbiting on
about mantises funnel webs lorikeets and sharks.
I suck in every second and drink in his new understanding. And file it.
The double edged sword of remembrance. Lest I forget. Lest he forget.
In the time allocated to me we will pack it all in. Action secrets silence.
The budding biologist he’s become.
The rock I must be.
“A gender-equal society would be one where the word ‘gender’ does not exist: where everyone can be themselves.”*
I’ve always been aware of gender conditioning and actively tried to combat any lingering prejudices or stereotypes in my own parenting, even down to encouraging dolls with my boys when they were little. It’s great to read people writing about gender issues they’re experiencing with their kids. For too long these subjects have been discouraged or silenced. I’d love to publish some more creative writing on this topic, especially if you are struggling with a child who actively tries to move away from gender normative preferences. A society where everyone can be themselves – thanks Gloria for those aspirational words.
* Gloria Steinem