Thursday, 22 August 2013

Touched

Fruit for sale on the roadside in Surat Thani, the rows and rows rows and rows of black and white portraits in the Tol Sleng museum, rough floorboards underneath hammocks by the Mekong, paper serviette holders on the tables in Nha Trang, the drug dealers' ziplock pouches a quiet man in Jaiselmer slips our silver jewellery into.

The rockers of an empty chair on a front porch in Cuba.

Things that are dusty: teeth hair socks boots fingernails, hiking on the Australian Alps Walking Track until you get to the YHA in Thredbo three weeks later and wear your dirty thongs to the communal showers. You talk about the colour of the water going down the drain, about walls. There's no view like the wild brumbies as you bathe, no trangia to light, no billy to boil, no tent poles to click or spiders to keep out or sleeping and waking by the moon and the sun, climbing tree trunks that have collapsed across your path, banging your stick to get a long thick snake lazing in the sun's heavy heat to move out of your way. No more climbing a mountain to get a signal and check if anyone has left a warning message about the fires you can smell.

Almost city clean. Fresh clothes that were saved in a plastic bag at the bottom of your pack. A man behind a bar in an ironed shirt, two beers, two plates of fresh food, the noise of people ordering more drinks, talking about photos, weather, where they're going next. Talking about showers that aren't hot enough, steak that's undercooked, wine that's too dry, what they're children said today. Looking forward to the drive tomorrow.

And us. Creased and coloured despite the sunscreen we rubbed in with our filthy hands. Familiar aching in our lower backs, our calves, our thighs. Our toes wriggling in their freedom, knowing back in the room, beside our packs, the settled achievement of our boots' latest layer of dust.



Response to Sarah Selecky writing prompt to write a list titled: Things that are dusty.





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