Ramsay Street Blues


I am cold. I live in the mild Victoria climate but I never warm up. I spend a lot of time sitting in strangers’ hands. This is how I come to understand the world. Even when their hands are sticky and sweaty, which is most of the time, I still don’t warm up. They grab my edges, smack their fingers around my corners, grip my body tightly. They clasp me like they don’t want to let me go, but they always do, passing me into the hands of the next person. I’m a model, posing this way and that towards the camera. I’m both fragile and unbreakable. When I’m not in the hands of strangers, I’m locked away in a dark box or left sitting on top of a tall clangy pole. I’ve always been black and white, revered then dumped. Kicked, knocked over, dropped, stroked, hugged, photographed. So many photos. Rain doesn’t stain, it just washes off. Sometimes, the hands are familiar, returning from previous visits, those who can’t stay away. They smile, every single one of them. When I retire, I’ll go back to my box and never see the sunlight again. Will I be dead or alive? Schrodinger’s sign. No more hands will caress me. No one will smile for me again. Sometimes, when they hold me, I learn their stories. Narratives trickle out of the sweaty palms across me, making grooves like a vinyl LP recording; the sorrow or triumph that brings them to me. There’s always a story. The woman in recovery from cancer, the solo traveller escaping an abusive marriage, families who’ve worshipped me together for years. I’m a cult leader. I can’t speak to them, but I know I make them all feel better. They always leave brighter than when they arrived. I hover in the air, held up by love. Who will make all these lives better when I am gone? There’s already a change, more sorrow than triumph underneath their smiles. They take longer to release their clenched fingers, to pass me on to the next person. The shade lasts longer, making me colder still.

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