Bland On Bland – The BookThe theme for this week’s JVG Radio Method poem is “Astronauts“.

I have no idea what Jon was thinking this week. Astronauts? Well, it was interesting, after four attempts (something of a record) to come to grips with it, I settled on this piece I presented on air.

I do like it but I wish I had had more time, maybe I will tidy it up for the next book?

Let me know what you think


Ed Bates provided the guitar backing, have a listen to how it went below…

To play this poem directly in your browser – just click the “play” button below:

Astronauts

Janice would have never described herself as a ‘greenie’.
The thought would have infuriated her.
She was a pragmatist; though in reality, and out of necessity, both monikers shared many of the same values.

Raised on an outback cattle station, Janice knew well the harsh realities of life and the need to adapt to finite and fluctuating resources – she grew up knowing nothing else.

She washed regularly but bathed infrequently.
Ate all on her plate and gave no thought to what wasn’t.
Wore her clothes until they fell off, useless, even as rags.
New shoes, regardless of the condition of the incumbent pair, were considered an indulgence.

Aside from her sister Karen, Janice could go months without seeing another child.

Lacking both money and inclination to send their children to board in the city, the girls instead schooled with classmates they were destined never to meet.
They spent a handful of hours a week on a two-way radio courtesy of ‘School of the Air’ followed by assignments completed under their mother’s watchful eye.

It was exciting.

Janice liked to pretend they were astronauts; exploring distant planets, checking into base every couple of days to report their progress and receive instructions.

It was far from a romantic lifestyle; for some, a crushing and desolate environment, yet attractive to those who shared its rhythm, embracing of the seclusion and accepting of the rigid demands.

If it was an isolated existence, it was never lonely; a rich habitat for those open to its ways, teeming with life evolved to survive, if not thrive, in often brutal surroundings.

Her eyes saw a world stripped of the distractions, vanities and pretences prevalent in more urbane societies.

The cities she was familiar with were the thousands of giant termite mounds dotting the arid plains around their station.
According to Jimmy, the head stockman, there was a billion fold more termites on their lease than there were humans on the entire planet.

The practicality and complexity of the mounds combined with the phenomenal effort required to build them fascinated Janice; orientated according to the transit of the sun to control the temperature, aided by a vast network of passages to circulate air and remove noxious gasses.

Flawless functional design devoid of ego and architectural statement, yet their appearance was breathtaking.

Some nights Janice would sit on the banks of a dry creek bed at the back of their house with Jimmy’s wife Essie, looking up at the night sky, strewn with countless stars, planets and other celestial bodies, presenting in perfect disarray.

Essie would tell the girls stories of the beginnings of the cosmos, explaining what each constellation meant and how they came to be.

Those stories both thrilled and comforted Janice, thrusting her high above the parched, red plains into a boundless and impossibly beautiful universe.

In those moments she saw the world for what it is; that despite our empires and facades; our gods, our conceits; our fears and affectations, in truth we live on a chunk of rock orbiting the sun, hurtling through space at more than one hundred thousand kilometres an hour.

If nothing else, we are all astronauts.

© Copyright 2019 Ian Bland


Also have a listen to “Everything or Nothing

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