‘ down there ‘


because of the climate of denial in which I grew up where the euphemism ‘down there” was commonly used I made a pact to wise up the current crop of girls in my care.

information exploration and discussion seemed to be a good policy.

my mother said nothing to me about the girl becoming a woman never mentioned the ‘s’ word or the ‘b’ word by which I mean sex and bleeding, bottom was ok.

one day after school sitting on the toilet in our bathroom I noticed blood . I was equal parts horrified wondering if something had broken ‘down there’ and a vague awareness that it was a coming of age drama for the female gender.

I ran out to the kitchen and told mum who had to stop what she was doing and make me a belt on the sewing machine. it was no cause for celebration or discussion. I hung around in my blood stained undies hopping from one foot to the other trembling with an energy of a new self emerging from my body.

a few whirrs of the machine later and I was being fitted with a wide stretchy belt with tags attached at the front and the back. to these tags she safety pinned a pad –back and front – big safety pins. it was not meant to fall off.

is that comfortable ? Mum fussed as she did  with sewing matters-  a competent seamstress with pins poking out of her mouth as she pinned hemmed  tucked  darted and modified all the clothes she made for us girls over the years of our growing up.


comfortable didn’t begin to get close but we got my undies back up and straightened out my skirt  and that was that. later on Mum tossed me a packet of modess and said you will be needing these.

end of story.

no sisters left at home to bug – they had fled for australia when I was nine so it was me alone on a sunny afternoon .

I felt odd – butterflies doing jigs in my tummy so I went into the living room and lay down on the couch just like dad did when he came in from work but not something I ever caught mum doing.

in she comes while I am dreaming away  and trying to work out  how I was going to be able to live with this and what it would mean .

could I still climb up trees and onto the shed roof and from there jump into the pool in susans backyard.eeks how did one go swimming?

jeepers how on earth would I ride my bike and how obvious was it going to be when this was the year of the mini skirt.

what are you doing lying down? she asks, never mind I need you to go down the shops for me.

my afternoon job was shopping for mum while other kids played even though mum had all day to do it her self . I didn’t know what was going on with her  but something was off kilter. many years later I found empty valium prescription bottles of the 60’s stashed in the back of the pantry.

I pleaded, ‘ I cant go out  like this mum please don’t make me.’

she laughed perhaps even snorted but ladies don’t snort do they ?

its not the end of the world, off you go.





you have no idea what it was like growing up in a boys own annual I tell the daughters




 Once there were  images of the goddess with  temples dedicated to her many manifestations.

She was fair and she was dark

She was forbidding and stern

She was bawdy and fun

She was wise and compassionate.

She was wild unrestrained joy exuding  a divine creative feminine force on the planet.

She was the wings under which we sheltered, the first breast we suckled and the teacher of the mysteries.

She held the earth in the palm of her hand and her feet straddled the universe.

She was the great mother and we, her children her creations.



growing up in the 60s I did not know her.

she had no existence in my suburb, town or country.

Instead I was taught about god the father the son and the holy ghost but when I asked about the mother I was told not to be silly.

in my family there was dad  my mother and two sisters and it wasn’t long before I found out from the girl across the street that it took the efforts of both my mother and father to make me and that somehow despite great pain my mother expelled me from between her legs  and out I popped.


who is god’s mother? he doesn’t have one I am told – he is the one who made us in his likeness he is the creator .

and then I discovered at Sunday school that because of Eve allowing the evil snake to tempt her into eating the apple we got chucked out of the garden of eden and  instantly became  sinners.

but that was  ok because Jesus who I had a bit of a crush on at the time  had died on a cross so that I could be forgiven for being so bad.

to compound matters mary mother of jesus hadn’t done the dirty with Joseph,  no-no- no it seemed to involve Gabriel a trumpet and a state of virginity which had a lot to do with keeping your legs closed and acting ladylike my mother informed me.

I have to say my mother with all  her religiosity was very coy about the details and whenever I queried into this subject matter I was told not to be silly. hardly satisfied with this state of affairs I decided to hedge my bets both ways – pray to god when I wanted to pass my exams and boycott Sunday school taking my collection money to the local dairy and spending it on lollies instead.

every room in our house had  biblical verses set into paintings of an  idyllic scene .  things like  ‘for god so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son ‘…  and  ‘I am the way the truth the life’  and ‘trust in the lord with all thine heart’  there it was framed in every room –  the story of a big daddy god and a son .

hey in case you haven’t noticed I am a girl. I know that was  just me being silly again.

much later I was told faith was required to understand these things . lets face it a child knows quite a bit about faith – we are until it is taken off us eternal optimists – knowing we will be fed and put to bed, told off for failing to put the bin out or feed the cat.

we have faith that the sun comes up every morning and we will have to go to school and that when it gets dark there will be another blue about watching tele or going to bed.

by this time I had reluctantly given up the fairies in the garden as well as the easter bunny the tooth fairy and santa claus. In this case having faith meant accepting a god without a mum a father without a wife and a son that didn’t have any sisters as well  don’t forget some geezer who called himself  the holy ghost.

but what sort of ghost I wanted to know and how did that fit with ‘ there are no such things as ghosts’ whenever I complained about being scared of being left without the hall light on.

none of it made sense and all of it denied me a reflection of the girl child.

suddenly  I am emerging into puberty into a flowering of hormone and breast muscle of feelings and flushes and prickly sensations.

my role models were eve the wicked temptress that caused the stain on all females ever after and mary frocked in white never been kissed with a halo over her head holding a baby that saved the world.

welcome to the feminine my dear

whore or virgin.

which one will you be?

what a choice?

sheer  luck  that I read Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren about the red-haired freckled lass that had adventures. I shared the red hair and the freckles but not the adventures. Pippi  was rebellious and  independent, she could stand on her head walk upstairs carrying her horse on her back wore odd socks  was a champion for the weak and did not need adults.

what was there not to admire about her?


by the time  I  made it into my 20’s and the 70’s were doing their bit for the feminine the goddess sailed back into my orbit and we made fast again, we embraced and studied all those long centuries in which she had been outcast.


you have no idea what it was like growing up in a boys own annual I tell the daughters.

you have no idea what it was like growing up under the vengeful gaze of the male trinity.

and I have no idea what could have been if I had not been stamped with the mark of sinners.





the stories we tell each other  are sacred 

they are the actions of who we are



the light of day


I have been waiting for the muse for a while – yep close to a month since I last ventured forth

and then I thought I would put out some stories that for some reason or another didn’t hold up to the light of day

and so as darkness falls here and the night comes closer

I offer a story called



The light of day


Dawn snuck into my room jumped up and down on my bladder and pulled me into awareness.

to my reckoning it was still dark.

Go away I murmured.

I am snuggly.

I am dreaming .

the urgency increased and I was forced to get up.

The grass was wet underfoot and from a squat I raised my head to the star-studded cast of players in the sky.

Almost a blush, a hint of light but not really enough to take it seriously, I returned to my nest of sleepy warmth.

But the scout heralding dawn had already snatched me from the dream and there was no return.


I listened then –  wondering if anyone else was awake –  and very faintly heard a few soft tentative tweets.

then a melody rippled thru the air and into my bedroom leaving me in no doubt that day was on its way.

the ancient song of awakening as channeled by the magpies.

It seems that we get so caught up in  indigenous  sovereignty and rights of humans that we forget all that has occurred to make this world absolutely and perfectly suitable for our existence.


We have become  so enthralled in the human story that we disregard the forms that birthed us onto the planet.

consider the genesis of oxygen ,the division of the cell,  the chlorophyll molecule

from an inhospitable environment human wise so many things had to happen for us to be able to live here.

And in the grand scheme of the birth of life onto this earth we have only been here a very short while.


Walter Boles from the Australia Museum unearthed fossil bones in south-east Queensland of a song bird that has given rise to the notion that songbirds were singing on this continent 54 million years ago and that the present day magpie is its offspring.

what else can I do but get up and join in to one of the most remarkable moments of the day.

The sun clearing the curvature of the earth and casting its light onto our dark world.


Suddenly the orchestra swells to include the grey shrike thrush ,butcher bird , yellow robin, whip bird, the wren that will later skip about on our verandah picking up crumbs, eastern spinebills wattle bird – they all have a voice at dawn.


The faded wishy-washy colour in the sky crystallizes into a searing blue of possibilities and continuance. Dogs from neighbouring farms stir rattle their chains and cough off the night. Cars trucks bikes start up and the world begins.


I am standing out side the kitchen watching the glimmers of light fade up and the stars recede until there is only a sickle moon next to Venus and Jupiter in the northeast.

They are brilliantly lit in the suns beam and blink out even as I watch.

In houses all over this land alarms ring kettles are switched on, radios tuned in, the morning show on tele, cupboards open to reveal cornflakes and muesli, toasters pop up, drinks are stirred, showers turn on, instructions are shouted and children and adults move into their day.

And even though I have watched this particular show before, even though I have seen the pinks and butter yellows sweep onto the palette and even though I have heard the dawn chorus a zillion times I am still gob smacked

I am still in awe – this show that repeats itself every morning but is never ever the same.


I cannot contain it, nor write it nor draw it. It will not be captured except in some Clayton’s version of the real thing.

And the beauty of the moment is that if I care enough I can rise again and play a part tomorrow morning in this award winning drama.

But  even if I don’t

it continues to do its thing anyway