The Walkabout by Andrew Scott
Prologue – Walkabout
I love this time of year,
it is midway through the winter in our region,
though tourists are seen in shorts.
I guess we are short of spoiled in these parts,
smiling our homeland Australia is a funny place.
I am packing for my walkabout,
the basic essentials for travelling,
thin blanket, compass, book, machete
and what is ever on my back and head,
cargo pants, long and short sleeve shirt, bandanna, hat,
and walking shoes that are sturdy yet comfortable.
Being by yourself, a person does not have to pack much.
You do have to get used to your own smell
but what does that matter when your by yourself?
Everything else is with you for protection of some sort
and to give the feet a break.
I believe this year I will try to journey through the rain forest.
It is not monsoon time yet
and the tall tress will give a nice shade.
The weather has been so unpredictable lately,
it is hard to guess daily it seems.
Even the elders old bones
do not get the right pains and aches.
My family always meets me to say their wishes,
hugs and kisses from them all with smiles.
I am blessed with a beautiful, caring wife Cynthia,
three children, Courtney, Michael, and Dawn.
All knowing that I will return safe.
I close the door and start my walkabout,
time for the annual purge of the soul and mind,
contemplate the future and what it holds.
Will try to learn how to live with the hidden news
held by a doctor that is checking on a lump,
the one found on a normal check,
that tweaked with a touch, giving soft pain.
The first steps are always the most exciting,
the world in front of you with so much to find.
Yes, this year so much to discover.
Part I – Michael
The air out here is already better,
nothing but nature.
It has only been a day or so
and the senses are starting their cleanse,
negative energy being replaced with each step.
These little walks are a great place
to think about what is important.
My family thoughts always bring a smile,
all so unique though they are from the same house.
Stopping to cut open some fruit to reenergize
while I wait for the fire to really heat up
for the fish caught earlier this morning.
Gifts of the land.
My thoughts go to Michael, the only boy
at home right now with the ladies.
He is soon to be sixteen and still learning.
Always a smile even when working hard,
you would never know if he was strained.
He is not a huge adventurer
like a lot of other boys his age.
Mostly sits and reads with those buds in his ears.
Michael used to ask to come out on these
but I always explained it was a solitary thing.
In a few years the curiosity will get to him
and Michael will do the same as I.
That is easy to see.
Wishing that Michael will figure out
how to let folks know that it is alright
that he is comfortable being who he is
and that is fine by us.
Michael does not know that his mom and I know,
that he does not like the opposite sex.
We are his parents and we just know.
I can understand why he is keeping it to himself now,
the others on his rugby and field hockey teams
may not take the time to understand.
You just never know with people that age.
Looking at the sleeping stars
my mind is very clear about it.
Closing my eyes now for sleep
and I have one thought only,
Michael is my son and I am proud of him.
Part II – Aboriginal Ancestors
I was startled out of my slumber,
my body shook of a nightmare shock.
It is fairly hard to get frightened out here,
after a few nights you become numb
to normal, dark sounds.
There was a drone in the air,
moving and bouncing through the branches.
I got up and moved toward it curiously,
I had to see where this beautiful tone was coming from.
Not sure how many steps were taken
until I saw one of the most beautiful
things I have ever seen.
On the other side of the forest wall,
in such a small clearing,
Eight or nine blue tinted dancers,
keeping rhythm with their drone instrument
and unified feet dancing.
Their eyes were closed,
letting instincts guide them so freely.
To be able to see such a celebration.
Holding their spiritual hands all at once,
feeling the vibrancy of their freedom,
a magical contribution to our world.
I stayed far away enough to watch
but be hidden enough
to be respectful to their ceremony.
So soothing what I was seeing,
each step of theirs made me feel so relaxed,
I was not even sure when I fell asleep.
Part III – Courtney
I woke up at the edge of dawn break,
still hearing the soothing foot beats,
though in reality they were long gone.
I was still hoping they never saw me
but the small gift of a blanket told me otherwise.
I went back to pack up my small camp,
relishing at the aboriginal strength in just living
and experiencing all the was brought to them.
As I prepared to continue my walkabout,
checking my compass and heading northeast,
I could not help but grin a bit.
In my mind, though different but the same
was the eldest, Courtney.
The free thinking spirit in our home.
An eighteen year old with the experiences
that I wish, at times, we as parents
did not know about at all.
The transition from quiet, little girl
to boisterous young, knowing lady
in my mind happened the exact day
her birth date turned her thirteen
and not one day later.
I swear from that day on
there was no stone unturned in adventure,
nothing deterred her.
The sense of being respectful never left her
even though there were nights of extreme worry.
Blackall, where we live, is such a small town
that her mother and I were always
told about sightings of the town’s children.
The elder’s gossip would always be the youth’s undoing.
I am not going to lie
and say I never worried,
cried with that many nights.
Had to do something on those sleepless nights.
Looking back, as Courtney becomes and adult
I am sort of thankful she did explore
whether is was good or bad.
It can only help with decisions
that are made later on in life
being able to understand clearer.
That is my train of thought for today
and whether it is true for Courtney
I hope so but the future is the only way to see.
Part IV – Shaman’s Dance
After a hard day’s walk, soaking in the sun
I found a nice shaded area for the evening’s camp.
There was even a slight breeze in the air.
Chuckled as I silently hoped that it would blow away
the day’s scent that just grew and grew.
The carrying bag was put against a large trunk of tree
which made for the perfect resting place.
My legs were starting to feel the fatigue
of all the steps each muscle and joint had walked.
There was plenty of light
so I brought out my book
and started to exercise my eyes and mind.
I am captivated by old world history,
so much to learn about where we came from.
I did not feel or notice the sting right away,
not even positive to when I fully made myself aware
of the lengthy, thick snake that had sunk itself in my leg.
Half jumped when I did in pure shock and fright,
then, in a panic, I tried to pull him off to no avail,
finally coming to some sense I pulled the machete
and with four strikes it took off the serpent’s head
from its body and I pulled open the dead snake’s mouth
in order to get the teeth out of my bleeding legs.
Heaving, I flung the remains as far as I could
using the blade as a sling.
Cold sweat started and I became nauseous
and then I closed my eyes, so exhausted and dizzy.
I woke to the screams of hell piercing my head,
startled, I opened my unfocused eyes
and lifted my heavy head to see the unthinkable.
Everything was in black and white.
More screams from a lady in front of me,
dancing in circles with a skull in hand,
that was what she would stop to scream at.
I was bewildered when different screams would come back,
the snake bite’s poison had to be confusing my thoughts.
My body shook on its own, covered in perspiration.
The screams stopped and she ran into the forest,
I went to call after her but had no voice.
With fear, my trick playing eyes saw a wolf
that sauntered towards me, stopping to smell the bite.
The animal’s mouth opened and closed over the wound.
It did not hurt to my surprise.
When it was done, the creature’s eyes met mine,
I could have sworn I saw the wolf smile
before it followed it master’s path into the woods.
Amazed, confused, tired, I passed out again.
Part V – Dawn
It has been a few hours
since I started the walk back.
Southeast on the compass,
at least that was not playing tricks
with my mind like the one last night.
Replaying those unexplainable events over and over.
I will never understand how there was no wound anymore,
the pieces to that puzzle will never fit together.
To try to shake the bewilderment,
the brain shifted to better, calming thoughts.
Smiles brought to me by the youngest, Dawn,
the little girl that is still so innocent.
So far the only child that does not mind
curling up with her parents to watch cartoons,
holding hands in a public place.
Where tea time with dolls
is still one of the best times of the day.
I am still amazed that a thumb and blanket
warns of any sadness that Dawn finds.
Wonder every time that I go on these walkabouts
how much change will happen to her.
Though I hold onto to the hope there is not any,
I know that whether I am there or absent
that Dawn will grow and change daily.
So hard to predict if she will be like
her brother or sister personality wise
or a combination of both mentors.
Dawn just soaks up everything we do.
The world had made the little ones grow so fast,
nothing is hidden to anyone, anymore.
With regret I will have accept
that Dawn will not need to snuggle
like the day the other two did not want that to.
I almost laugh out loud at that thought,
it quickly left my head,
like I always needed my parents,
even as adults, the children will need us.
Part VI – The Koala
The heat on this day was almost unbearable,
every stream used to refill my drinking pouch,
I did not even care what may have been in the water.
I drenched my sweat, dirt stained bandanna,
felt so good having the drips covering my face
to go against the sweat in my pores.
When I stopped under a sun shaded spot
I heard rustling in the trees above,
making sure I was safe I looked up searching
and the noise came into site, I did not move.
A beautiful, calm koala laying on a branch,
eating leaves so undisturbed,
only stopping long enough to make sure
the joey on the mother’s back was fed too.
I shook my head with a smile.
The joey had a firm grip and was not going to slip,
mother koala would not let that happen.
So easy from where I was to feel that.
A mother taking case in a soft, protective stance.
That is the same as my strong wife, Cynthia,
our family’s loving mother,
the corner stone to our fountain.
She is always fixing what ails us,
sneezes, sniffles, relationships gone wrong,
rough days at school or work.
Our Cynthia is always there weathering the storm.
Wife and mother comforting ears, words and touches.
As I started moving on my walkabout home
I cannot help but think and wonder
if that joey truly appreciates the love
that it is unconditionally getting.
Ashamed I know we at home do not,
I will have to start changing that.
Part VII – The Driveway
The driveway always looks so long
when I get home from my walkabouts.
It is funny, odd how the legs grow heavy
in the final steps.
It is so satisfying to see Cynthia and Dawn
working in the flower garden
that has become my wife’s obsession.
I assumed that Michael was inside
and heaven knew where Courtney was.
For some silly reason
the thought came that they would not recognize me.
A thinner body from living on the land,
hair shaggier, new full beard,
skin darkened with the sun,
clothes that were dirty with every step taken.
Dawn was the first to see
and run to me, almost knocking me over.
Held her as I gave Cynthia a kiss.
Walking inside there was Michael reading
and Courtney was in another chair
phone to her ear, going a mile a minute.
Shaking my head, I thought I would come home
to something different
but everything was just the same.
The family was good to me
and let this body enjoy a very long bath
before I gorged into many meals
that left the stomach aching.
After relaxing in the den
with a very nice hot tea
The questions about the sites
I saw started coming one after another,
they were told of the scenery
and the peacefulness of it all.
There were a few little adventures left out
that were in my mind’s camera,
those were mine and I planned to leave it that way.
Prologue – The Lump
The bliss of being home from the trails
always stays until it is time to go again.
I think these yearly expeditions
somehow save our family
from the trappings of other households
and the pitfalls that are within our grasp.
Aside from the usual disagreements
and misunderstandings of each other
our spaces are respected
and decisions are supported,
even with aged knowledge
you know what the end result will be.
I think that is why I could not
hide the pain in my heart
when I had to call everyone
to the family table just days after I got home.
There was no lying in my eyes.
I told them about the lump I was hiding,
the one that was going to take my right leg
so it would not spread to other parts of me.
Their disbelief was in their faces,
every emotion drained from them.
As the head of this household
I assured them all was good
and with a smile I guaranteed
that I would have more tales
from future walkabouts.
March 14, 2012
© Andrew Scott – Just a Maritime Boy 2012
Bio: Andrew Scott is a native of Fredericton, NB. During his time as an active poet, Andrew Scott has taken the time to speak in front of a classrooms, judge poetry competitions as well as be published worldwide in such publications as The Art of Being Human, Battered Shadows and The Broken Ones. His books, Snake With A Flower, The Phoenix Has Risen, The Path, The Storm Is Coming and Through My Eyes are available now.