listening without trying

Ears are funny things. They’re hard to close. 

On the train today,  someone’s life story seeped in to mine.

He sat behind me and I imagined his face, as he talked to the pro-bono lawyer of growing up on a farm outside Ballarat.

Of working, unpaid, everyday from age 7-17 as labour on the farm, helping his dad crotch sheep, harvest and keep the lot of them hoping and wishing and waiting for things to turn around.

Of 40 more years of grinding pattern, and then escaping back to the familiar in an unfamilar place. Labouring on farms in New Zealand, sending money home, breaking a knee falling down a weathered hill side slicked with the gnarled crevasses dug by vertical cow’s hooves, clinging on to the side of rolling green mountain cliffs in the winter. 

Of then returning home to his widow-mother’s farm, to find the title changed in his absence and to be beaten in the face by his own ice-addicted brother over a dispute about the one remaining tractor not bound up in a legal file in an office in the city. 

And then having both arms, majority bones, to a pulp, along with the other leg, face and memory-loss in an industrial accident a year later. 3 weeks in intensive, 3 months in rehab. 57 years a battle. 

And then, of now finding himself on 7:52 train to the city courts, with lawyer in tow to fight the last fight he has wheezing in him. 

Not sure who the winner will be, but my ears wish him the luck he never had.  


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