Wednesday, May 4, 2016


This is the first day 
Of Spring, it's early May,
The weather finally good enough
For a sit-out on the patio
10 floors up,
I have for company
A book of short-stories 
And a glass of Pinot.

Memory and longing,
Streams of consciousness
Swim along tunes 
In a melancholic playlist.
Meanwhile from Zavantem,
Aircraft take off with twinkling lights 
On wingtips and fuselage,
Silhouetted by the setting sun,
Trailing contrails like brush-strokes
On a many-hued canvas.

On the front page of my book,
In a scribbled scrawl,
"To Jay, 
With compliments
From Ray."
Ray Jarvis, my mentor, my guide,
Wrote 110 short-stories
In the last year of his life
In the throes of death,
During a battle with mesothelioma,
Contracted 50 years earlier 
In Wittenoom Western Australia,
An old asbestos mining town.

Many hours, I spent 
With this giant of Australian robotics,
Discussing problems of engineering
During my PhD.
Yet his enduring legacy,
My most treasured possession,
This signed copy of
His book of fiction,
"Two Moons",
Written on his death-bed
In a frenzy of activity.

These stories of ordinary lives,
Set against the backdrop 
Of desert dunes and country towns,
Of extraordinary Australian landscapes,
These lessons in life,
Speak out to me
From far beyond his grave.

I have my own students today,
And I hope I can give them
Guidance in research,
Impart in them a work-ethic,
Intellectual vigour.
But more importantly,
Teach them to lead decent lives,
That it is most important to be kind
Transfer to them through osmosis,
Some of the wisdom
That I received from Ray.

No comments:

Post a Comment