STAFF OF LIFE
(This work is from a monthly assignment where the members were asked to write a short work incorporating the word "Christmas".)Bread, staff of life, no longer as in days of old a simple affairModern times demand manicured, tamed, shaped, slicedPoppy, sesame seeded, even weight watchers extraordinaireLinseeded, garlilicked, fruited, also sweetly icedHot from the oven there's nothing to compareOne problem though our weight has been sacrificedStuffing all this dough has enlarged our bodies I declareBut who can resist becoming completely enticedNow everyone's tummy hangs over their underwearBorn on Christmas day the dear man to blame is Jesus ChristGood man, smart man preaching bread for our daily fare.
Marion de la Croix ©
‘I can’t go any further,’ said Nixie.
Tianna sighed and reached for the girl’s hand.
‘We’re nearly there,’ she said.
Enticed by the evening shade she cautiously led her niece into the glade followed by Kheelan her husband and Dain her son.
Two kangaroos lay in the grotto grooming their fur and showed no signs of flight. They didn’t appear to have heard the family enter their sanctuary.
‘We’ll stay here tonight,’ Tianna said.
‘But there aren’t any toadstools mum.’
‘I know Dain. I think Ellyllon must live here.’
The boy smiled.
‘I remember, they eat mushrooms and fairy butter.’
‘Clever boy you’re learning fast.’
‘Look Kheelan, over there is a Dutchman’s pipe. Lets have a drink.’ said Tianna.
‘Delicious,’ said Dain.
He wiped moisture from his chin and smiled.
‘There even enough water for a swim.’
‘In you go then both of you,’ smiled Tianna
The cousins needed no second bidding.
‘I’ll collect some wormwood leaves for bedding and the smell will deter any crawlies.’ said Kheelan’.
The family had left Bumpitipity Stump three days ago. The first night they had spent in an abandoned Magpies nest. The second night, Nixie had chosen a farmers letterbox that resembled a barn. The family still had another full days travel ahead before they reached their destination.
Once they reached Ditochre, Muggery the wizard and his goblins would never get his hands on Nixie.
Tianna only had enough food left for tonight. She opened her pea pod, frowned and displayed what was left of the food.
‘I’m sorry that’s it children.’
Nixie and Dain groaned.
‘Never mind I saw some Logan berries growing near the wormwood I’ll go and pick one,’ said Kheelan.
‘Mum, help me!’
‘Dain, look out for that ant behind you!’ screamed Nixia.
Tianna picked up a twig and poked it in the insect’s eye. It curled into a ball and lay still.
‘Come and have some berry,’ called Kheelan.
He took his cutting stone from his pouch and divided the fruit.
‘That tasted so good,’ said Nixie.
‘The best,’ said Dain.
‘I think we should get some sleep now, we have a another long walk tomorrow.’
Tianna lay next to Nixie and thought about how the Wizard had killed his wife Timtoo, Tianna's sister, then tried to sell Nixie to Arabuntle.
If he had succeeded Nixie would have been sentenced to a life of cruelty at the hands of the witch.
As long as I live that won’t happen vowed Trianna silently.
Suddenly Kheelan stood up.
‘We must leave now I can smell him.’
‘Oh no Kheelan what can we do?’
‘Sh! Follow me.’
He picked up his sleeping son while Tiania gathered Nixie in her arms.
Kheelan crept towards one of the kangaroos. He eased his way up amongst the thick fur until he reached its pouch. Nixie clambered inside with a gentle push from Tianna.
‘We’ll be safe here. Maybe this kind animal will give us a lift!
‘You’re so clever Kheelan.’
Tianna reached up and kissed her husband.
Without acknowledging their presence the kangaroo stretched its front legs, stood up and knocked everyone of their feet.
‘Hang on we’re off!’ cried Kheelen.
He peeped over the edge of the pouch.
‘She’s heading in the right direction anyhow.’
He overbalanced and fell down into the soft lining.
Nixie snuggled into his arms, ‘You’ll be safe now,’ he said.
Gratefully she hugged her uncle.
The kangaroo leapt high in the air as it bounced over the countryside. The quartet dozed, safe at last in their cacoon.
Suddenly the animal stopped.
Kheelan woke and looked over the edge of the pouch, saw the sun and smiled.
‘We’re her Tainna.’
Kheelan grasped handfuls of soft fur, clambered up the inside of the pouch and jumped out. Everyone followed and they slid down to the ground.
The kangaroo lowered its head and tenderly sniffed the foursome.
‘Thank you for your help Mrs Marsupial,’ said Tianna.
‘My pleasure. Good luck fairies!’
Marion de la Croix ©
BIG TOES by Marion de la Croix
(This monthly assignment was to choose from a number of unfamiliar topics and perhaps research them and produce poetry or prose. Topics included: Aurora Australis, Hannibal, Angkhor Wat, Big Toe, Big Ben (i.e. the mechanicism in the Tower of Westminister), cold fusion, Boerwurst sausage. Monya bravely incorporated them all!) Just cause they’re bigger they think they can push us around,’ said left 1st digit.‘I know I’m fed up with their bossy ways.’ agreed right 2nd digit.‘If we all curl up they’ll have to support Jack’s two metres on their own.’ Left 3rd digit laughed.‘Lets do it and see how they like it.’‘I’m frightened,’ said left pinkie, ‘all he has to do to punish me is lift up and then I’ll have to support Jack’s weight on my side.’Left 4th digit rubbed up closer to pinkie.‘Don’t get upset well prop you up we always do.’‘Well all right,’ she smiled hesitantly.‘Lets do it!’‘Oy what do you think you’re doing?’Right big toe pushed his second in command out of the way.‘Serves you right you brute how do you like the rough treatment?’Left big toe leaned onto 2nd digit.‘Do what you’re told squirt.’Left pinkie, 3rd and 4th digit squeezed with all their might.‘Leave left 1st in command alone, left big toe.’‘Do we have a revolt? You lot are no match for me.’Jack stood up‘Attention everyone we’re going for a walk,’ called out right big toe.The six digits and two pinkies silently cursed the twin big toes and tried to think of a way to get back at the bullies.Once out the front door Jack began to run.‘I wish Jack would buy some new shoes,’ said right 3rd digit.‘Ow, ow I’m getting a blister,’ complained left 3 rd digit.‘Me two,’ said right 2 nd digit.‘I’m getting squashed,’ said right pinkie. ‘ What about you?’ she called out to her counterpart.Before left pinkie could reply, right big toe laughed.‘Ha ha serves you squirts right I’m enjoying this.’Jack slowed down, jumped onto the sands then picked up speed along the beach. A wave ran over his feet and the ten digits gasped in shock from the onslaught of cold water.‘I wish he’d slow down,’ said right big toe.As if Jack had read right big toes thoughts, he stopped and removed his sneakers. Each toe luxuriated in the sensation while Jack buried both big toes into the sand.‘Cough cough,’ they complained‘I just wish he wouldn’t do that,’ said left big toe.Both pinkies laughed.‘Serves you right bullies.’ Everyone jeered at the big toes discomfort. ‘Serve you right you bullies!’ the digits called out.Left big toe suddenly screamed. Everyone squinted in his direction. A crab had taken a fancy to left big toe and proceeded to gnaw away skin.‘Help!’ he cried. Right big toe tried to dislodge the crustacean but the crab latched onto him instead.Eight digits giggled.‘Big toes for dinner, can you imagine putting that smelly glob of human flesh into you’re mouth? I’m glad Jack’s a vegetarian!’Marion de la Croix ©
LUCKLESS by Marion de la Croix
I'm told to write a short story of luckUnhappily, though I'm inspiration stuckEven wallowed in some sweet horse muckIn addition, my steed gave me a sympathetic buckWinston my duck showed disapproval with a cluckAnd clucked she did many times did my duckA chicken for dinner I did furiously pluckYet still, I'm denied any stories of luckFor my brain has suddenly become dumbstruckAh ha! An idea, then again no, forget it, yukI give in, I can't think, so the pen I'll chuckOff to bed to dream and instead become star struck.Marion de la Croix ©
SHOW GOSSIP by Marion de la Croix
'Hallo Betsy?' 'Good aye Mavis. Another prizewinning show hopefully ahead, goodness you've put on weight!' 'I know isn't it marvellous and just in time for the show. Harry's so happy.' 'Another year another ribbon maybe?' Betsy asked. 'We can only hope. How's everyone at Kings Plans?'
'Good thanks there have been many changes since last year.' 'All for the good I hope?' asked Mavis. 'Yes. Merrill over there had a baby so did June and old April but Hamish died.' 'I will miss Hamish. He was kind to me when I was younger.' 'We all feel the same.' 'What about you, any news of little feet?' Mavis asked. 'You're joking, I'm far too old,' she laughed. 'Not the way you I've seen you carrying on with the bulls,' teased Mavis. 'It's only flirting these days,' Betsy sadly admitted. 'Never mind dear time affects us all in the end.' 'I don't think about time any more just enjoy myself.' 'Good on you.' 'What about you Mavis what news?' 'Harry finished that new barn and we had another dam built. The water is delicious doesn't have that taste to it yet you know?' 'Yes I know what you mean, lucky you.' 'Harry has also bought this new cattle feed and I prefer it to the other one, it has more crunch.' ' Jacks bought some for us as well but there is never enough especially when Molly and Joan hoe into it, dribbling as they eat. Who wants their slosh after they've finished?'. 'Still better than plain old hay I suppose.' 'I agree.' 'Oh here comes that rascal Burnie he's got a new ring in his nose and I'm not talking about Susan.' 'Don't talk to me about that hussy!' 'What do you mean?' 'She'd lift her tail for any old stud.' 'But she looks so demure.' 'She a good actress!' Bernie glanced towards them and winked lasciviously. 'Good aye girls now you've seen this years prime specimen and Best of Show form a queue for a kiss!' he growled in his husky voice as he lumbered past. 'Cheeky bugger,' drooled Betsy, 'and he's so handsome.' 'You said you'd given up flirting,' said Mavis. 'I know but he sets a girl blood on fire with a mere glance and I can't resist a red head.' She laughed. 'You'll never change, you're a tart!' 'I know and I love every minute of the show. I wish it was held twice a year instead of once then I could admire the boys at my leisure.' 'I think I'll change to topic of conversation before you jump onto the next bull that passes.' 'I do know how to behave like a lady Mavis!' 'Only teasing my dear.' 'That's all right,' Beryl said mollified. 'To please you what shall we discuss now?' 'The stalls look nice and clean won't be long though before they smell ripe even with this cooler temperatures.' 'How boring Mavis don't you ever occasionally eye the boys?' 'In days gone by I did but where does it get you but pregnant again.' 'I only think about the present not what will happen next year.' 'As I said Betsy you are a tart.'
They tossed their heads snorted and laughed. 'I say have you seen that new Droughtmaster Bull in the Webster's stalls?' Mavis asked. 'Yes he's is a beauty, bit young for me though.' 'Can't you ever think of anything except sex Betsy?' 'Nope!' 'I give up!' said Mavis and stamped her foot. 'Okay Mavis I will try.' 'Enough of the gossip. Here comes Harry with my hay,' Mavis snorted. 'Jack's taking his time unloading mine. I'm starving. We left home at four this morning.' 'He's probably been gossipping with Harry.' Mavis twitched her tail and flattened two flies on her rump. 'Well he better feed me before he puts his hands on my udders!' 'Harry milked me the moment we got here so I'm free of hands until tonight.' 'At last, here comes Jack now I can eat. He's not bad for a human at least he warms his hands first.' 'So does Harry, if he was a bull, I'd rather fancy him!' Mavis joked. 'I don't think I'd go that far with Jack although if I was desperate I might.' Betsy giggled. 'Are you entered into the same events this year?' asked Mavis. 'Yep in the best bovine legs and largest udders!' 'Those aren't proper events,' laughed Mavis. 'I know but you've got to have a laugh haven't you?'Marion de la Croix ©
NATURE'S WAY by Marion de la Croix
SPRINGTIME: when the sun begins to arc higher on its axis to coincide with the moon and the natural world listens.No minute’s, seconds or hours matter only an inbuilt sense to come alive. Flora and fauna heed the breeze, atmosphere and the raindrops.SUMMERTIME: where grass, fodder, nuts and roots abound and must be harvested to replenish depleted winter stocks.Warm mornings gradually increase into stormy afternoons. Once again, no clock is mentioned.Wildlife preens, struts and absorbs wholesome rays of the sun, as winter coats are shed underfoot.AUTUMN: without instruction begins its shut down process in preparation for the third season. Pelts increase in density, extra down intensifies on birds feathers and leaves shed from their hosts provide a blanket for their roots.Competition for underground nests and dens becomes fierce and only the strongest succeed.Without notices or announcements trees sense the moment to allow sap to fall back to feed its roots for next year.WINTER TIME: finds burrows and warrens occupied and sealed against frosty nights. Low temperatures encourage hibernation and months of recuperation. Many remain without food due to inactivity. Food for others, hidden in spring and summer, is retrieved, dug up.Trees, stark and naked, brave the elements and discard diseased and dead branches to the wind.Old and sick die and new life commences in wombs.Nowhere are clocks mentioned but the world continues to turn.Marion de la Croix ©
DAPPLED GROVE by Marion de la Croix
I had only one decision to make today. Should we head across the mountain trail or follow the creek? As we reached the fork in the trail, Teddy, his canine instinct for spoor, sharp and accurate, made the choice for me. He loped towards the right fork down to the creek.Fanta, who since a foal had won a place in my heart, raised a fine dust as she followed behind. I lengthened my reins and relaxed. Teddy’s tail, his golden flag, hung at half-mast an indication I always thought of his contentment.Mother Nature opened her door and welcomed us into her realm.Half an hour ago, my head had been filled with the inconsequential matters of every day life.Here amongst mottled green and brown contrasts, under canopies of eucalypt, which framed the blue heavens, my companions and environment, restored my soul.A Willie wagtail pirouetted up ahead. Teddy made a playful leap at the bird, which took off horizontally and called out in protest. Teddy laughed, his tongue lolloped out of the side of his mouth as he careered away to discover another target.Fanta whipped her head up and turned to watch a wallaby, as yet unseen by Teddy, bound away. Once she realised no predator lay in wait she lowered her head and continued.I become aware of the tinkle of water. A leaf cascaded to the ground already littered profoundly with its kin. Bark, rotted over millennium, crackled beneath Fanta’s hooves and odours, musty but pleasurable rose to my nostrils. Tranquillity, unknown outside my private kingdom, encircled us. I inhaled, revelled, wallowed in my covert valley.I anticipated my picnic and maybe a peaceful siesta beside the clear water.Teddy had disappeared but I become aware of his whereabouts as he pushed through the scrub. Suddenly he gave voice. He had picked up the scent of the wallaby.Even as a puppy, he had never run fast and now at two years of age, only attempted brief sprints. He lumbered more than ran and any animal he chased had already departed before Teddy had run a few metres.Within minutes, his panting indicated his whereabouts long before I saw his chocolate coloured coat amidst lantana and bracken.Thin rivulets of water linked deep pools all along the valley floor. On summer evenings, we often came for a swim. I would remove Fanta’s saddle and bridle and ride her bareback into the cool depths.At first, she would splash her front leg to indicate her desire to roll but I would gently urge her into deeper water. The strength in her shoulders amazed me as she swam the five metres to the opposite shore. I would slip from her back when she stumbled onto the tiny strip of shore. She would snort; toss her head and roll in the sand. Satisfied she would lower her head and crop at the sweet grass, which edged the watercourse.Teddy waited until we reached the other side before he plunged into and under the water. He always shook his shaggy head as he surfaced to allow him to see his way across. He would crawl out the water at my feet; lope twice round me before he also rolled in the sand, stood up, shook and barked his pleasure.How I laughed at his antics.On rare occasions, we had sighted a platypus. However, I hadn’t seen one for over a year. I felt certain the shy creatures still habited the shadowy waterways but took cover at the slightest sound.Today as we reached the rainwater pool, I dismounted and unsaddled. Fanta had no need of restraint. Grass, only occasionally nibbled by wallabies, surrounded her and she had no reason to roam.I unpacked my rucksack, chose a large gum to rest my back against and sat down. Countless times I had visited here but I never become blasé about such splendour. Apart from Fanta’s munching and Teddy, lapping at the waters edge, not even a bird announced its presence.Within these emerald and russet walls, I understand the exact definition of tranquillity. Worldly cacophony is conspicuous by its absence. In these wooded glens, total silence is a way of life. Serenity is indescribable it must be experienced.Teddy flopped down next to me.A few metres to my left, I heard the first part of the call of the whipbird then held my breath and waited for its mate reply. Once it came, I sighed and lay back against the tree.I reflect on my fortunate life and realise balance is the key to existence. Anxiety and frustration coupled with time alone allows the mind to recoup, rebalance.To remain needs no encouragement however, my childlike imagination is also practical and we three have to return to humanity.Inside my soul, when my radiance dims, I return to Mother Nature who without fee will nurture and renew.Marion De La Croix ©
RED GUM by Marion de la Croix
Atop the Great Divide I dwell, surrounded by my clanWeather worn now, world weary and cadaverousSadly, my limbs once virile have turned sinuousSince I sprouted here centuries before occupation by manI still stand tall though, gnarled arms outspanYet come spring my feelings grow amorousWhen Mother Nature weaves spells of procreationPert leaves shake and shimmer, wafted by a zephyr fanEmpty veins are sap replenished, momentarilyI become Tarzan Past years come to mind of days splendiferousHowever, old timbers ache;I soon forget love's sensationMy bark becomes flaccid, spring growth turns wanOh, for a rain shower I pray, who needs sex, I'm ravenous'Saplings,' I call, 'it's your turn for multiplication.'Marion De La Croix ©