Monday, April 26, 2010

Return of the Wanderer

People love maps. People admit to passions for maps, for hanging onto old maps beyond the repairable stage. "My maps always tear at the creases," says one. "I've still got maps of every Australian State in a drawer," says another. I myself belong to this mob: when Dad died, I clung to his map collection as if, of all his papers, these National Geographic lands of the Middle East or the USA, and the fragile roadmaps of Victoria, or the books of road maps of Europe, would guide him back to the world he'd left. In Goolwa at the weekend, an elderly woman took advantage of the extra visitors to town and kept her Op Shop open. I found an elderly map of  Queensland there for 50 cents, and just could not leave it on the shelf. Besides, everything was half-price for clearance; the woman told me she'd been unemployed so set up the Op Shop to give her something to do. The goods arrive in huge bales and friends gather to help her unpack them. Instantly I think of long vehicles, long straight roads;  a map appears in my mind with Goolwa as its centre ...

When I read from my maps of the Murray River, I made the comment that in order to make one of the maps I had to join one of South Australia to one of Victoria because I couldn't find a map of the two states together. The join is obvious; it's not a true fit. The audience laughed. There was a recognition of the political situation. What - States sharing representation on bits of paper!!! They can't even agree on what to do about theMurray-Darling River system. How could they map it as one entity???

My Map of Murray poems are written from conversations with people, of course. In Goolwa, I started to think about mapping the Murray as a fish or pelican. Are there words for that? I may have to make them up.

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