A poem by Mardijah Simpson
Last spring I watched a house martin weave a nest, round as a thrown bowl, in exquisite symmetry, balanced on a bare branch of the lemon scented gum. Then in the night the wild winds blew. Next morning the nest had vanished, no sign, it was nowhere. I could not believe it had ever clung to that round smooth branch. "Foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the son of man hath not where to lay his head" Nor the woman her head. Walking up Martin Place blank black hoardings hide another bank. All signs of last year's homeless camp - gone. No beds, no blankets, no home no safe place, no one. Where did they go all those lonely people those wanderers flotsam/jetsam/scraps and crumbs of society? Under the arches on Eddy Avenue. Tucked against stone walls are bed rolls, blankets, bags. A man stretched, asleep in the shadows beyond the bus stops - waits. Every year high in my tree the magpies re-weave their nest. In the jumbled basket of twigs the hen rides out the storm winds swing till the chicks are safely cradled. High above the town near the show ground by the lookout onto the river a small haven bloomed under the tall trees. Until show time then the council chucked them out. The broke's camp broken - the homeless moved on. They disappeared into the shadows, the hills, women and children sheltered in cars, the fearful and their dogs vanished into caves the disabled into despair. Summer is fine for camping young people take off to the mountains and lie under the stars but when you are old and stiff you worry about next winter.
Mardijah Simpson wrote No Place Like Home not long after she came to live in the Shoalhaven. After reading Jade Lee’s recent article on homelessness, it prompted Mardijah to re-visit her poem. Wouldn’t it be nice if no one had to worry about the cold this winter?
Feature image: Birds-nest. Photo credit: Serafima Lazarenko - unsplash.com