Tuesday, 28 July 2009

southern hemisphere winter

bright wet skies
roads of shimmering silver
dripping trees turned to glittering emerald
twin tracks in concrete speak of plastic toys
that passed this way a quarter century ago at least.

strong winter sun reflects from every surface
the cold south wind turns the evergreens to thrashing thunder above the humble street
seagulls squealing, wheeling, dazzling white
against dark angry clouds
the world, aglow between the rainstorms
mandarins weigh down laden branches
they have no seasons here.
wooden windows rattle in merry gusts
breaths of smoke snatched from chimneys tell of cozy afternoons within.
mud fills the alley behind my house
I wish good health to the couple who scratched their names in wet concrete at the corner, back in the dark mists of suburban history
the cat I met on the beach reminds me of another I once knew better than myself.

Monday, 27 July 2009


Luxury is...

a smooth-polished wooden coathanger
a second hot water bottle
a comfy work chair in the sun

five days without rain
scrunchy sand on a winter beach
dry paths in the forest

sardines in mustard
ripe avocado
double camembert

a good day's work
a good night's sleep
a letter from a friend

the smell of lilies
leftover cake
strong tea

a father who loved me
a peace at his passing
a hope for the future

Monday, 13 July 2009

From My Windows

from my dilapidated hilltop windows
I can see
birds and flowers
the sky and everything in it
an old airforce plane homewards to the sunset

hundreds of houses
thousands of trees
handfuls of skyscrapers
half a city.

three churches
one school
a supermarket
a factory outlet
a park
a road

a dozen islands
a mountain range
four volcanos
a lighthouse
the ocean
boats, often
sometimes the moon

Thursday, 9 July 2009

How Old Am I?

I've recently been confronted several times with evidence that I don't look like an adult. While it is nice to know I can impersonate a teenager anytime I want, it does make me wonder if this face I present to the world is indeed abnormally childlike. Consider the following:

- A nurse at the hospital asked me what school I go to.
- A friend of a friend told me, "You can't learn to drive until you're twenty." (In fact you can do it at 15 or 16 so I'm not sure what the story is here)
- I have problem skin and somewhat irregular teeth.
- I reached my current height at the age of 12 and have been this tall ever since.
- I sleep in a bunkbed. The top one.
- And yes, I am currently learning to drive.

For now, just ignore the fact that I'm writing my fourth novel, I hold a postgraduate degree, and have been a career woman for at least eight years!

All that aside, how old do I look?

The Light Across the River, by Stephanie Reed

Following on from book one, Across The Wide River, this sequel continues the story of one family's involvement in the Underground Railroad. This time it's told by Johnny Rankin, a young man growing up with an enormous secret: his whole family regularly offers aid to escaping slaves.

Johnny finds it more than just plain difficult not to tell anyone about the amazing adventures of his father and older brothers - and later on, his own. Yet he's not short on bravery, often facing up to the town bullies and slave hunters who threaten to obliterate the illicit activities. Certainly not illicit in the eyes of God, says Johnny's father by his actions, again and again.

But it's not just Johnny's story - far from it. We also get a deep view into the lives of slaves who long to be free, and what it was like to be on the run, in danger for their lives. Eliza, herself a grandmother, escapes with her own babe in arms across the treacherously unstable spring-melted ice of the Ohio river, towards the light set up in the Rankin house on the hill. She goes on to become Johnny's friend and he becomes more involved in the rescue of the family she was forced to leave behind.

We see Johnny changing from boy to man, and Eliza from slave to free. Johnny eventually tells an author of Eliza's river crossing, later made famous in 'Uncle Tom's Cabin.' All of these connections are based in actual history - the Rankin family, Eliza's tale, and the author who wrote it down - all are true historical figures, brought to life here by wonderful immersive settings.

Gripping from start to end, suitable for young readers, this book plunges you into the reality that was the Underground Railroad in Ohio of the 1800's.

Check out these other member blogs this week for more info.

Wednesday, 8 July 2009

Across The Wide River, by Stephanie Reed

This is a tale of the Underground Railroad from the viewpoint of a young white boy growing up in a family dedicated to helping their African brothers to freedom. His father is a preacher, often mocked for his public anti-slavery stance, but his opponents do not know the half of it. As Lowry becomes a man, an increasing proportion of his nights are spent in trafficking the refugees farther north from his home on the Ohio River - the very border of the abolitionist movement. He battles school bullies and greedy slave-hunters while pondering what call his career should take - not realising that the decision is already made, though not in the direction he thought. We hear only snatches of the travellers' stories as they pass through by night, quickly moved on towards their next destination. What we do see is Lowry's growing recognition of the great blessing his clandestine activities are in his life. He moves around, trying this, that and the other - but he never ceases to assist the ex-slaves who come across his path.
This is an interesting story with plenty of fascinating historical facts and tidbits from that time period. It is also very suitable for younger readers from about age 8. Lowry's faith is a matter-of-fact thing, and it gives him strength for the night rides in the name of freedom.

Check out these other member blogs this week for more info.