reverse parking at three thirty

there is a reason why it’s rafferty’s
in the car park
women one after another are stopping
in the centre of the bitumen
then reverse parking to left or right
as though for a quick getaway

uninitiated
I park nose-to-kerb

a swarm of children
like ants or bees
in gaudy maroon tops and baggy shorts
or mock-tartan checked blue skirts
running and shouting
they are everywhere
throwing bulky bags to ground
as though inflicting a gleeful punishment
on objects not worthy of respect or second thought

they are are the reason for strange practices in the car park
these children in broad rimmed hats
that mark the sun as an enemy
and in loud colours once unfamiliar to school precincts
for it is half past three in the afternoon
and the school day is ended
mothers know
that sensible people do not risk reversing
into the frenzied dispersal of school children and cars
in the crazed quarter hour after school is dismissed
only passing strangers would attempt such feats


© Frank Prem, 2002


This piece is taken from an unpublished set of poems reflecting on change over time in the Western Suburbs of Melbourne. This was an area that was turned into suburbs back in the 1950’s or thereabouts and accommodated the waves of European migration into Australia. It was know as a ‘New Australian’ area, filled with ‘wogs’ and other such unflattering names.

I knew the area as a youngster from visiting with family, and revisited as an up and coming Project Officer in the Department of Health in the late 1990’s and thereabouts.

Another poem in the series is: the new west: a ride on the St Albans line.

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