Those days in the dirt

By | 1 November 2019

The sound of a power saw soothes me
It reminds me of home
Of my father’s toughness
His rough protective carpenters’ hands
Those firsts that I knew had been moulded by the jaws of skinheads in the seventies
The safety we felt when he was snoring in the room next door
It reminds me of the long hours working in the blazing Australian sun
Of the travelling
Of coming home broke to save again
Of the sweat
The mud
Of lost loves
And tear-filled WhatsApp phone calls in the car before work
Long distance love
Goodnight and good morning texts as I reached for the barrow
Girls I fucked on benders an hour before digging post holes
My twenties evaporating among concrete slabs and pine frames
Of raspberry lollies in the glovebox
And Bobby secretly handing me Viagra’s on Friday mornings
Of Eddie and AJ
And walking in the rain from Mordialloc station heartbroken
Writing letters to her parents
And Reading books on the train
Listening to red sails in the sunset as I sped home
Sam and I sleeping on the roof in Bourke St
Simmo sitting next to me while my leg pissed blood
The shitty jobs spent dreaming of being able to use my brain for money
It reminds me of transient friendships
Beautiful people I once knew
Louie and Joe smoking cigarettes and clumsily jiving to
Chuck Berry
Good men with good hearts
Working like dogs to send money home for their families
It reminds me of alcoholics and banter
Of drifters with prison tats and bowie knives in their backpacks
And apprentices with eighty thousand-dollar Hilux’s
They will never repay
Of classic hits on the radio
PBS blaring in the cabin
And of the word ‘cunt’
Thrown around so casually I forgot how ugly it was
Sometimes when I walk past a building site
I smile at the memories of my youth
The honesty of the work we did
Its simplicity
And I respect the harshness of these environments I grew up working in
Tough men
When I hear the sound of a power saw at 7am
Howling over the sleepy suburban rooftops
Interrupting hundreds of Vegemite breakfasts and weather reports
I roll over and imagine the smell of the saw dust
And of the wooden off cuts gathering on the floor
The measurements scribbled all over the plaster
And the lists of the day’s jobs
Conversations that begin with ascertaining football loyalties
And the endless shit talking
I miss those days
I miss the gruffness of the men
The hard exteriors that protected gentle loving souls
Their intrigue as we strolled onto site booming Indian chants
on the pocket speakers
I miss the comradery of hard manual work
The afternoons I spent counting the hours down on my fake omega watch
I miss the heat in those portaloos
And watching the dirt slowly circle round the drain as it oozed out of my hair in the afternoons
The moments with Matt in the truck
Speeding Gonzo style down beach road listening to Desmond Decker
Two Don Quixote’s high on audacity
Glimpses of something greater
Moments of true serenity
True oneness
I miss the swims at lunch
And the freezing winter mornings where you couldn’t feel your fingers until 9am
Cursing yourself for not getting an easier fucking job
Mostly I miss the romance of it all
The sound of a power saw reminds me that there is a beauty to harshness in life
And a kind of grace among those who’s’ edges seem rough
It reminds me to be grateful for moments as they unfold
And to appreciate the friends we meet in strange places along the journey

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