Karoonda, Murray Mallee, South Australia
Much has changed from how I knew it –
the red brick wall of the school
I spent hours hitting tennis balls against –
it’s jammed right up to the new extension.
Still there – the bakery – where visits to my father
were rewarded with iced yeast buns, and I’d smell
the wood oven warmth, lean on floury benches of pine
and watch him flip the bread on the flat ends of long poles.
Revamped is the picture theatre where juveniles
rolled jaffas down the polished wood aisles
and flicked their fantail wrappers at us girls.
And the Institute alongside – at interval time we’d stare
through doors swung wide to catch the breeze
to envy the girls on the dance floor, old enough
to snare the new young men who’d just left school
and leaned like old-timers against the doors,
crossing their legs and smoking cigarettes.
There’s not a whiff of the annual debutante balls
bonanzas of white satin and swirling tulle,
farm boys bobbing stiff as black-suited masts,
long supper tables of pavlovas and sponge lilies.
All these have left their imprints in my mind,
signposts to steer by. I was resident in a space
that others would fill; the Memorial Hall presides still,
a host at table after the guests have gone.
Ros Schulz spent her childhood in the Barossa Valley and Murray Mallee. She taught English, Maths and Latin and produced dramas for 15 years in high schools in rural South Australia and Adelaide and for one year in London, followed by a further 15 years as an Adelaide TAFE lecturer in Communication Studies. A member of Friendly Street Poets since 1994, she has featured regularly in their annual anthologies, was co-editor of the 2018 edition, and winner in 2010 and 2011 of Mindshare’s Open Your Mind Poetry Competition, an initiative of the Mental Health Coalition of South Australia. Along with appearances in various other Australian journals and magazines, she has published three collections of her poetry, ‘Weight of Evidence’ in 2010, and the chapbooks ‘It Wasn’t Me’ and ‘Living on Promise’ in 2014 and 2017.