Someone who does not understand the rules or gets them subtly wrong. She is talking to two woman, I can't see what any of them look like as they are sitting behind me.
How many grandkids? she asks. How many kids? Ooh. How old are they? Ah, two girls and a boy, and a boy and a girl. All your kids are married? What's he doing? Where does he work? He will get married sometime then. Oh step kids? And is he the father of your kids? Oh, so you dumped one and got together with another and you both had kids already? So what are you having for dinner tonight? Takeaway. What about tomorrow night? what are you going to eat tomorrow night. It becomes a constant noise, wrapped in this carriage with this person in a loud voice asking more and more questions.
Or perhaps she understands the rules better than me. She is so forthright and insatiable I imagine her remembering all the details and seeing them again in a month and asking How was that chicken? Was the new place you tried any good? Did your husband get fish and chips the next night? How is your daughter in Canada. Is she coming for a visit any time? She would remember names better than me I think, and faces and be quite sure of who she has met, and when and under what circumstances. I am constantly thinking myself polite by introducing myself to people who then tell me have already met. I congratulate myself on remembering names only to have got them wrong. This woman who sounds younger than the grandmothers would have none of that.
There is also the Pakeha woman with the long face and deep creases on either side of her mouth. I've seen her before. She is reading a book and of course I want to know what she's reading. I wonder if I could pretend to be interviewing people about what they are reading just so I can peer rightfully at the spine of their books, and ask them if they think the book is good, if they like the characters, or dislike them but none the less care about them, if they are reading through boredom or obligation or because it is the most important thing in their lives rights.
There is a large man standing by the door with tiny headphones on and his eyes closed and he is frowning with his forehead wrinkled so it looks as if he is in serious pain. Now we are in Porirua and a woman I know, a zine maker and an artist, is walking by and I wave furiously and miraculously she sees me and waves back. This never happens on trains and I the day seems suddenly interesting. I think about the last time I saw her, it was a fundraising thing we were both reading at, and how I know she's probably in Porirua working on the art project going on there, something about the people's Porirua, autonomous and the attempted reclamation of the country's first McDonalds, and a sarong tying workshop. And I think about the things the woman makes, and her deliberate defiant design. I don't know her well but we grin at each other through the train window and the rails and the grey sky.
And I think about a bit of writing I saw today with the word blazing in it and how it made me want to use the word, and how it made me think of the raging dignity of my daughters. I think about Ashleigh's poem and how I want to read it in the quiet because I read it the office on one of my three screens and 17 tabs and while trying to figure out a complicated matter that exists only in the trembling hum between computers, and when I read it I was at my desk is next to another desk which is a kind of junk yard for old abandoned computers and computer parts, all of it piled on to it in a tall heap and even then the poem was waving its inflated arms in its own wind, and yes, the poem was blazing out at me.
Read Ashleigh Young's poem.
The bit of writing with blazing in it Dianna Wynne Jones (end of page 73) someone else tweeted it but I can't find the tweet.
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