Thursday, December 12, 2002

Wilston School: Primary School Graduation Ceremony

Alexandra Imrich, Age Champion Swimmer of the Years 2001 & 2002

Milestones of Life Teary farewell to seven years

TAKE a sackload of tissues, I'd warned my wife. You'll be wailing your head off before they're halfway through the ceremony.

Men, of course, don't cry. Only women sniffle and sob in public, particularly at primary school graduation ceremonies.

There'd been the swimming carnivals and athletics and the netball and soccer and a well-intentioned but doomed attempt to enlist me in schoolyard grass-cutting duties.

There'd been that time they'd ill-advisedly put me on bar duty at a function and that time when, her bloodstream well aerated with champagne, Herself had manned the public address system at the fete.

Our lives had slowly become ruled by the school calendar, each morning the chaos of getting one small person from the bedroom to the classroom, each afternoon the three o'clock pick-up, one of us waiting in the car park for our child to appear. I must have done it hundreds of times over the past seven years and my joy at seeing her face, sometimes smiling, sometimes frowning, has never lessened.

There'd been tantrums and tears, disappointments and jubilation, triumphs and defeats, my wife and I feeling every blow to her pride and feelings as she made her way to Year 7. So I sat there and let the thoughts roll, unable and, maybe in my heart, unwilling to stem the tide of nostalgia.

Seven years! A friend once told me that his 80-year-old mother's last words had been: I never thought it would all go so fast. It was an emotion that gripped me now. It had all gone so fast. Year 1 and then Year 7. Where had the days, months and years gone?

So we sat and watched as they sang of their future and I wondered who among their number would find happiness and fulfillment and long life and who – and there would be a few – would be less fortunate, praying to God that our daughter would be among the blessed.

As they sang, I watched Herself dipping deeply into the handbag, hauling out fistful after fistful of tissues, as the tears started in earnest. Women! I thought.

Then we moved into the church where hung a large screen on which was projected a series of montages, one for each child, composed of photographs they had brought from home.

I was fine until the screen lit up with a shot of myself, and then wife and child and then a headshot of our daughter on which she had written: Always shoot for the moon, for if you fall short, you'll land among the stars followed by a Goodbye to the children who had been her mates for the past seven years.

My eyes filled and the tears rolled down my cheeks. You wouldn't have a spare tissue, would you? I whispered to Herself. I seem to have something stuck in my eye.
· Year 7 [Courier Mail]

The Girl, the Dog, and the Book

A girl is riding on the back of a dog.
In his mouth, the dog is carrying a book,
on the first page of which, a girl is riding

on the back of a dog. As the story goes,
it’s the dog who chose the girl, and she’s held on
ever since. Her small hands tighten with handfuls

of short hair. The world, a cool place, blurred forms,
colors that fly by as they ride, and the girl
has made a home for the wind in her hair. She

wears no clothes, and the dog, huge dark energy
beneath her, his panting like the pumping
of her heart. The dog, for a moment, larger

than a mountain, the girl, hugging a hair, lost
in the woods on his back. She builds a house, starts
her fire, brings the dog back down to size. She sleeps

in a cavity, in the corner of his mouth, swimming
in and out, from the white page to the yellow stones
of his teeth. White foam rises, warm waves breaking

all around her. She spins herself a great nest,
cocoon woven from her long hair. And inside,
a girl is riding on the back of a dog.

In his mouth, the dog is carrying a book,
over the first pages, the girl’s hands rapidly moving.
- Edward Bartók-Baratta

A weed is no more than a flower in disguise
-James Russell Lowell.