never look back
Well I walked into the narrow aisled shop and wandered by its crowded racks and shelves and looked here and there and breathed in hard the plastic stink of China hoping to feel some connection with this half container load of coloured synthetics and the near severed roots of my fifty years of riding waves and here at the counter stood the three year old child now a man who once slipped into my room for some spare change while I slept in his mother’s house though he knew me not today at all and I near embraced him out of a long dead fondness, this boy.
I asked him of his brothers and his mother and sister and like all of our histories he told me of tragedy and suffering and the joy of small quarrelling children forever underfoot, as he once was.
Well I walked up the beach and past the pandanus cove and stopped a while by a surf school proned out on the sand as their coach pimped his temporary authority over them and played for passing trade amongst the thronging idlers who wandered their aimless path there and back with me though I was not with them today.
Well I walked up to the headland and waited for the dive-boats to disgorge their passengers and their black exhaust smoke to dissipate and the only thing that remained unchanged in this old paradise was the inhospitality of the rocks – sharp edges that bled me when this corner was a quieter place and caretaker Limberey VC suffered our rocks on his cottage roof.
Well I climbed up the walkway and onto the old hill where we used to scramble and eased my way through the Americans and Japanese loitering up there and looked down onto a cityway of surfers massed in haphazard commuter lines to the distant beach and I remembered cold winter days here and long windswept waves that broke empty and ceaseless.
Well I walked all the way back to the rudder post and being low tide looked for any sign of the first pier but there was none. Gone too the surf club and the old hotel, the wide-windowed boarding houses – all but the one up there and the window where we used to sit and oftentimes closed when the slaughterhouse stink swept in with the north-easter.
– and I stood in the town for hours and watched faces walk, drive and pass by and tried to imagine old friends forty years unseen in the old grey heads and shuffling ways and there were none.