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Smiley Face

The teenagers sitting
in front of me draw funny, smiley faces
on the train-seat upholstery with
their felt-tip pens, and snap photos of
each other doing naughty things.
You’re mean to me, and so I’ll be

mean back, they tell each other.
The train crosses the water, and a
humid Sydney haze envelops us.

We are headed for the same important
occasion. The Grand Parade is led
by the Corrective Services Brass
Band, it’s nice to know that prison guards
have a hobby outside work.

There’s Miss Eastwood followed by
some fat belly dancers, the Chinese
Anglican Elderly Something and
outside the Miracle Supermarket
they are selling baby clothes, homemade
sausage rolls and sand in a bottle.

The local dance school, wearing silver
and white lycra, perform on a stage that has
been erected in Rowe Street.
Fifty acts in three areas,
and there’s a humungous Granny Smith
apple wibble-wobbling on its own green float.

I used to live here on B Street,
thirty-five years ago. Now
the cafés serve noodles not lamingtons,
and the real estate signs are written
in Korean. A woman smiles at

me and says hello. Her red rayon blouse
is embroidered with the ‘Four
Gentlemen of the Cold’ – the bamboo, pine,
the chrysanthemum, and plum blossom.

Modest and reticent flowers
of winter that signify reserve,
virtue and honesty and the
uncorrupted morality of all of us.



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