Sonnet #13: Daughter and mother cross the street

This happened outside my house today:

Sonnet 13: Daughter and mother cross the street
They stop the traffic. Big and small,
they stroll across the street with strollers,
no hand-holding, none of all
that worried care, those grinding molars.
Mother and her three year old
who pushes teddy, coolly bold,
sucking on her chup-a-chup,
mooch out and hold the traffic up,
though truth to tell it’s just one truck.
The driver waved them from the kerb
and watched with patience quite superb
a dreaming duckling and her duck
meander out. Ah, that’s the charm
to keep our young ones safe from harm.

I couldn’t fit everything into the 14 lines. I walked out of my door to see the woman and the little girl wandering across the road, with at least three metres between them – the little girl taking her own sweet time and completely out of reach in case a car came unexpectedly around a corner. I was amazed at the mother’s nonchalance. She mouthed ‘thank you’ to the truck driver. I took that as an opening , and when I caught up with her I said something like, ‘That was pretty amazing to watch.’ She explained that he had stopped for them even though there’s no pedestrian crossing.

The little girl pulled the lolly out of her mouth and waved at me with it. I said to her, ‘That would distract you from the road, wouldn’t it?’ Her mother explained that she had got the lolly from Woolworths where, in spite of her repeated complaints, they leave the sweets on a low shelf near the check-out: ‘I said, “I’m not paying for that. I don’t want it, but you’ve deliberately left it where my daughter can pick it up.” So we got it for free!’

We should all have had such mothers, to let us cross the street without fuss, to fight the wiles of capitalism, and to allow us an occasional sweet victory.

3 responses to “Sonnet #13: Daughter and mother cross the street

  1. Jonathan – How brilliant of you to engage the mother and daughter in conversation – to overturn my first assumptions of seeming negligence – and mother purchasing sugary candy for her tot! I think exactly the same as you have voiced in your sonnet! Yesterday with a friend I wandered around Bankstown shops (used to be referred to as “Yankstown” during WWII when Bankstown Airport was under the control of the US military) – a brilliant mix of shop-scapes out of Viet-nam and Lebanon/other Arabic. I wanted to see the bronze memorial – “opened” in November a year ago – to the many tens of thousands of Viet-namese boat people who never made it across the South China Seas in the 1970s (pirate/fishermen and storms and leaky boats – God knows). As I gazed upon it – I thought of my paternal First Fleet ancestors; of my Kent-born 1913 arrival maternal grand-father – and my 1919-1920 arrival Scottish-born paternal grand-mother – of all those boat-people from South-East Asia during the 1970s/early 1980s whom I taught and worked with in Sydney – and, indeed – those fleeing Afghanistan persecutions and/or from Sri Lanka. And then for Phò Bò (beef &noodles) at restaurant “An”. And a brief chat with a young man in a store with some beautifully-framed calligraphic “Scriptures” on display – memories of learning the Arabic alphabet with a girl-friend from Baghdad when I was at Sydney University – aged about 18.


  2. The mother is in the same league as Melinda Gates, IMO. Melinda’s TED talk from April is 4th on Bill’s list of top 13. They are all remarkable.
    The rapid access at the front of Woolies is for smokes. The same mob who want fewer government regulations have branded Nicola Roxon as “nanny” because, they say, smoking tobacco is purely a matter of individual choice. Well, that totally ignores the fact the cigarette tobacco is manipulated for its’ nicotine content. The child may have a choice as to whether to smoke their first cigarette, but those addicted to nicotine can’t exercise free choice over their next cigarette.
    Good on that woman for confronting the corrupting power of “market forces”. Her daughter will do well.


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