Monday, April 25, 2011


"What are you staring at?" A grizzled old frown glares at a 7 year old child mesmerised by the hair protruding from the old crone's chin. "Why was she mean to me?" the child asks, "Old people get that way sometimes." her mother reassures, "She's probably had a bad day and didn't mean to be rude." The crone winces with arthritic pain, unseen by a vibrant, self-centred child.

"What are you staring at?" He wears a flat cap and packs the ferrets into a hessian bag before skinning a brutally retrieved rabbit. "That's cruel" she says, "Nah. They're vermin and good eating. You want the foot?" She grimaces at the thought but takes the severed paw.

"What are you staring at?"  He's standing above her, high on a brick wall. She's actually admiring his pony, tethered on a spare lot of land because he can't afford agistment. "Your horse. What's his name?" The blue eyed boy replies, "Snoopy, wanna come for a ride." He jumps down from his lofty throne and friendship is found.

"What are you staring at?" The adolescent taking the third drag from a bubbling bong asks her at a psychedelically lit party, "Nothing." she says, embarrassed at her lack of worldliness and turns away. She really wanted to know what it was like and why he derived so much pleasure from the murky water and the breath-catching draught. She went to his funeral three years later. He'd crashed his motorbike under the influence at 19. Staring isn't life threatening.

"What are you staring at?" he said as she looked him up and down. This time with more confidence, "You actually - I like your shirt." His disdain disappearing like the tail lights of a speeding car, "Oh well that's alright then. What's your name?" She talked to him for hours until his boyfriend urged him home. "Well that was three hours out of my life I'll never get back" she thought. She remembers the stare she received from his lover.

"What are you staring at?" She averts a gaze once again. "God sorry, didn't mean to but this is beautiful." The artwork sang, struck a chord. The artist unknown to those outside the inner sanctum. A Knight, dead and dressed for burial with a dog lamenting the loss of his owner, mourning quietly at the foot of his master. Pathetic and loyal. "I love this."  He slides strong arms around her waist and she clasps his beautiful hands in hers. He doesn't understand the pathos of the painting, "I love you" he whispers and that makes it alright. She loves the way he stares at her, barely perceptible just within her peripheral vision.

"What are you staring at?" asks the child as his mother glances upwards into the branches of a towering eucalypt. "A koala" she says. "Where, where, I can't see it" she picks him up and guides his eyes with her hand, "See? Right up there in the fork of those two branches." He smiles and warms her heart, "Oh yeah! I see it" Life's lessons can be sweet.

"What are you staring at?" The child once at her breast now being embraced by another. "You darling. I made you. How did I make something so beautiful? Clever thing I am," The happiness in her daughter's eyes reward enough. The only thing she ever did right was to be a good parent.

"What are you staring at?" her father asked as they perused which trees needed clipping and trimming, "Dad, your skin's gone yellow overnight." He looks at the backs of his hands, "Yeh, I thought I looked a bit sallow when I was shaving." She touches him with a daughter's tenderness, "This isn't good, you need to get this checked out."  For weeks a much loved patriarch barely saw her stare as he wasted and finally let go.

"What are you staring at?" She makes excuses. "Just looking at the harbour in the reflection in the glass behind you. She's not, she's staring at him because she can't believe a once suicidal 19 year old would value her advice enough to travel 12,000 miles to visit. He now understands that the stare means she cares about him.

"Enough with the camera!" he's grumpy.  He's often grumpy, even violent. She knows she's dabbed make-up to hide the bruises, worn dark glasses to mask the tears. "You you look so angelic, so peaceful when you're asleep, so sweet, at peace." He moans abuse and turns away from her but doesn't delete the shot.  She keeps it in her wallet as a reminder of day's past, "A cat can look at a king . . ." she thinks.

"What are you staring at?" This time she doesn't flinch. "You. I told you I would.  Long and often. You're beautiful. Deal with it." He's puzzled, "But I'm nothing special, I'm a dick," she shakes her head.  "Yes you are. But you're an Emperor, a monarch, a leader. Mighty, unattainable, untouchable. I can't touch, but I can look. He kisses her forehead, tender but patronising. It heightens the awareness of their differences. But she still stares.

Posted for 10th Daughter of Memory "A Cat Can Look At A King"


  1. Oh, my. There is a lot about this that saddens me.

  2. I do love all thins pinging around! The reek of the human condition. -J

  3. a lot in there to think about. good stuff

  4. Congratulations, my friend. It still makes me sad though...

  5. The third one did it for me - nice one