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“This is Heather Cam reading the title poem from my collection ‘The Majestic Rollerink’:
From outside it’s a cinema,
but once in the foyer
it’s something else:
a dance hall or disco with music pounding?
Amateurs’ night at the bowling alley
noisy with mis-aimed balls guttering?
Perhaps a fair-ride or ghost train
packed with compulsory screaming?
A dodgem-car rally
With teenagers spinning and weaving
on neon-orange wheels?
Look! no fenders, no brakes!
Just sheer daring and grace,
balance and split-second timing is what it takes.
Get it wrong and expect bruises,
and, the more serious damage,
loss of face.
It’s a roller rink,
the Majestic Rollerink, Petersham,
swirling with teenage speed artists
from Cambodia and Viet Nam,
Marrickville and Dulwich Hill,
the Thai refugee camps.
It’s the South-East Asian diaspora
here this Saturday afternoon
in this high-walled hall
spinning like a blender
with music, movement
and the confidence of youth
in tight jeans and teasing tops:
black fish-net singlets for the guys,
gauzy blouses for the opposite number.
Everyone’s cultivating a style –
speedy or gymnastic, cool or comic.
There’s the lone wolf,
the best friends holding hands,
the linked chain of chums,
the girl with the sequinned hat,
the boy fluttering a paper fan,
the defiant side-liners
tough behind cigarette smoke and Coke cans,
the ostentatious loungers reclining full-length
at the centre of the rink,
the backward movers,
the crouched-low groovers,
the cutters and weavers,
show-offs and dare-devil swervers.
And in the booth above them all,
the Greek patron’s nephew keeps watch
over the murals of Hippocrates,
the painted Aegean Sea, the Island of Kos,
and the turntable,
where the mesmerising needle
skates round and round
on its one diamond toe
grinding out the homogenous American sound
until ‘All Change Direction’ –
and then the whole marvellous machine,
the Majestic Rollerink,
grinds to a halt,
THE DAY AFTER THE MAJESTIC ROLLERINK
all along the ribcage
of where wings should be.
And the bruises
after the surprise
when I should have been
ABOUT HEATHER CAM:
Heather Cam came from Canada in 1977 to study at the University of Adelaide. There she joined Friendly Street Poets. After completing her PhD in the UK on ‘confessional’ poets, she became a mother and for 5 years taught at Macquarie University, Sydney.
For 11 years she was the Sydney Morning Herald’s chief poetry reviewer, and Hale & Iremonger’s poetry publisher and senior editor. She’s worked at Penguin Books Australia, as a consultant to Macquarie’s Graduate Diploma for Editing and Publishing, and at UNSW Press (NewSouth Publishing) where she is Managing Editor. In 2009 she was made a Distinguished Editor (DE).
She, her philosopher/author husband and their Japanese spitz divide their time between Sydney and the Blue Mountains.
” I stayed overnight at Varuna and gave a reading for the inaugural Poets on Wheels (POW!) tour in 1994.
I also spent a week at Varuna as a participant (sponsored by Penguin Books Australia) of the Residential Editorial Program in 2001. An edition of ‘The Majestic Rollerink’ is held in the Varuna Library.” Heather Cam
Heather has had poems published in literary reviews and anthologies in Australia, Canada, USA and Denmark. She is the author of three poetry collections:
– The Moon’s Hook (Poetry Australia/South Head Press, 1990)
– The Majestic Rollerink (William Heinemann Australia, 1996)
– Border Crossing and Other Poems (Wagtail #45, Picaro Press, 2005).
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