Upward, Toward Heaven


Today is just cold and dull. But it’s ok.

David came in to pick up a book about women artists in South Australia, the book is here and he is pleased, he stays to talk for a long time about women artists in South Australia. I made a small movement toward…something else… and  he said:

I’m sorry for the long conversations all the time but I am clawing for a life you see, it is how I keep going. It is how I keep on going, because I am alone. Most people have full lives, but…well…I don’t.

And he looked upward toward heaven with his delivery, up toward the roof and way beyond that and I thought the roof might split in two with the aim of it,  and I thought what made him able to disclose such terror with such unflinching honesty and humility.

And I wanted to say: but it is the same for me, really…

but he suddenly left, and somebody else was there to tell me about a motorcycle incident that had just happened up the road and was particularly nasty.

And David was gone.

The old lady who bought a book for her friend.


An old lady bought a book for her dear friend. She came into the shop just on closing and it was very cold. Her friend lives in Goolwa and can no longer get out and about.

She knew precisely what he would like to read though. She knew in great detail what he already had read and she described the size and shape of each pleasure that books gave her friend who could no longer get up and go out.

She told me of his inclination for novels, for malicious characters, for historical curiosities and for Chinese food. There is a detective writer called Robert van Gulik that he loves. He will sit down to Chinese takeaway and read the novels of Robert van Gulik one after another. He liked books in hardback, he liked the heaviness of them and he liked proper paper. He always examined the spines of books and is scathing of the glued bindings. He would only tolerate glued bindings in his Robert van Gulik books. He liked the sewn books best of all, with dignified boards and a stout shape that will not stoop.

She bought him a copy of Barchester Towers and Heart of Darkness – he has already read these but they are always worth another go. She looked at the books carefully; she hoped they would not stoop.

Then she went home, with her gifts and her stout heart and her friendship that does not stoop.

Photography by Rula Sibai