How to have a baby at home


[Emma, rolling over in bed on the morning of May 14, 2015] “I think I’m having contractions”

[Dan, calmly freaking out] “You think you are? You’re not sure? This could all just be a dream, we’re all brains in vats, it’s impossible for us to know anything with absolute certainty so in gesture of epistemic humility you’re unwilling to say definitively? I need more to go on… Are we having a baby today?”

[Emma] “Possibly, the contractions are really irregular, it could be today. They could stop again. It might not be for another week.”

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Antenatal Classes

[a nativity poem in three trimesters]

The First Trimester

Miriam’s chromosome in courting spirals
Embraces another, such an other — an unfathomable Y.
All the junk, viral, evolutionary, specific, sanctified, elected, DNA of
humanity in his threadbare pockets. An utterly adopted son.

A why of Adam and of Miriam’s flesh
Of meiotic grace eternally begotten
your kingdom come on earth… hosanna
by two… and four… and eight… save us.

And yet…
those first weeks of waiting when the Ghost encroaching might be—
the Bright Messenger ventilating luminous bullshit—mistaken?
Might be the voice of constant indigestion
Might be my refugee guts longing for home.

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The Dancer

[For Nat, 3 years old]

Morning for me is all about weight. I rise and balance myself on the precipitous edge of the bed, teetering there and staring down into the day, feeling the flesh take hold. Gravity sucking on my bones. Bureaucratic little mind voice already listing off the things that I will not get done today because I can’t. I sit there paralysed by the heaviness.

Except on those days when I am preempted. He comes in promptly at 7am when his clock switches its face from blue with moon and stars to yellow with smiling sun. Wake-Up Time. Never mind that he has clearly been awake watching the thing, waiting.

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How a tree waits

Leaves don’t fall. Not in any straightforward sense. You really get a sense of this if you watch widely, unfocus that point in the centre of your looking and gaze from the sides of your eyes. Delight your peripheral vision. Wait for the great exhalation to pass over an avenue of plane trees.

While you wait we lay down the background tracks: the footfalls, occasionally a hard heel more resonant; the stream of conscious chatter, a sort of non-respiring susurrus that might pass as a replacement for a mountain river if you’re in the right frame of mind; all punctuated with crunching as a foot speaks with a leaf adrift in the path.

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An Essay on Lent


It’s the time of year when we awake from the drowsy hedonism of summer and jump to our feet, only to glimpse our plans and projects getting away from us. The year is getting into swing. There is a rhythm, like a Dave Brubeck time signature, but you think you can grasp it: work, family, classes, church, sport, to-do lists. But just as you think you’re about to reach ‘inbox-zero’, just as you coil for the spring that promises to place us on top of all the doings that need to be done, someone presents a dusty ankle which intertangles itself with your chopping legs, and rather than spring, we sprawl. In the dust and the ash of the city.

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Words Between Us

For Nat, turning 2.


It seems to me that, given the course of things, years will come when words will be no obstacle but catching each others’  meaning more than ever will elude. That’s my intuition anyway and I believe it has some claim to a foundation in observation. Look at all these linguistically competent pedestrians circulating the arterial pavement of my city in endless communication:

communicative hair
mobile eyebrows
flashing eyes
semaphoric nostrils
[ignore the mouth for a moment]
the angle of swinging arms
the gait: he ambles, she sashays, this one bounces of the balls of the feet, that one’s feet are walking in advance of the rest of him, all making tracts.

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We’ve been misled on boat people: what does it mean for our leaders?

Julian Burnside published an opinion piece on Australian Asylum Seeker policy today in the Sydney Morning Herald. (Please read). It was clear and factual. It outlined an eminently reasonable and humane asylum policy for a country signed to to the UN Refugee Convention. And yet, on reading it I felt a deep sadness because in many ways the basic facts that Burnside outlines should be pretty obvious to us and yet the solution he outlines appears politically impossible. It suggests to me a fundamental callousness and failure of moral perception in our broader society. So I am going to get a little bit angry right now.

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Worn Leather

I have a leather satchel that’s getting a little worse for wear. It’s sitting here on the bench beside me. It goes with me.

I wear jeans most days, and most of the pairs of jeans I have outlasted in these past years have perished because the fabric on the right hand hip wore away, was rubbed out, by her. I’m sure I have a twist in my spine also. I’m growing into her. The blue dye of my jeans has stained the back panel of the bag. The leather there is highly polished, hard, like the saddle between the thighs of an old drover. But the grain on the front is soft and tender, grained and lined familiarly, like the inside of an old thigh. Hard travelling makes the world harder. Maybe polishes it to a brilliance. And maybe it makes the traveller tender.

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Reliable Love

Indeed, fully reliable love can only be the resurrected life of one who has died for the beloved ones. Contemporary society speaks much of ‘unconditional’ love, and is always disappointed. If I commit myself in love, I may die of it. If I do not, my love remains uncertain; if I do, it is lost—unless I rise again. When the gospel proclaims actual unconditional love, it proclaims a specific, individual love, the love that is the actuality of the risen Jesus. No one else can love unconditionally as does the Lord; not even the church can so love her members or they one another.

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