On Morning River Runs


Scenes from my morning river runs:

  • The panoramic view of the river bend as I cross the bridge, the morning rowers gliding along far below me.
  • Always, always the views of the river- covered by mist or with golden reflections in the first light of a new day.
  • The streets of Fairfield that are their own mini suburbia, playgrounds and dog parks every few blocks and leafy sidewalks.
  • The community of early dog walkers: the grey-haired woman and the Border Collie with the blue eyes, the slumpy man with the Corgi mix, the animated lady walkers and their small white scamps.
  • The irregularly dispersed benches placed along the river that are occasionally occupied by a figure in early morning introspection or meditation.
  • The endless mobs of cyclists (mainly middle-aged men in lycra, or MAMILs) who speed past me as I chug along at about half their speed. Their bright cycling jerseys are far too intense for me; this is a club I’m happy to not belong to, but I appreciate their early morning tenacity.
  • My very favourite encounters involve a stooped old man who I can only assume is Italian, because every single time I run or even bike past him, he positively bellows out “good morning, bella!” I’ve started pre-empting him by exclaiming greetings as I run past, which positively delights him and we both beam at each other.

There are two poems inscribed in the concrete of the Eleanor Schonell bridge, which falls around the third kilometre of my run. I can never quite make out the text and only pick up occasional words as they fall past. Below is one of them.

Never the same this river–Archaic vein,

snaking through the land’s dreaming cortex–Submerging provinces; the

past, present and future- an Aquarelle

triptych cultural on every tide…

On this transom, the river’s dawning

skin… Stand here… give your breath to

the fleeting mist…  Stand here… in the crimson

shadow of Cootha’s

dusk… Stand here… and whisper upon

night’s canvas, whirlpool eyes, the song

lines of Kurilpa’s ghost.

Dreaming River Triptych, Samuel Wagan Watson

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