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Copyright 2008-2010 © Helen Chierego
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For Yvonne, Michelle and Margot
The world is revolving faster these days
How did it happen that twenty-four hours
Now seem like eighteen…or less? Back then
The Sun sign flickered day and night
Above the picture theatre, when we jumped
Off the Spotswood bus at Yarraville Station,
To ride the railway gates with the men
And boys, while the women stood back
They swung open like welcoming arms
Scooping us into the land of reel to reel
Streamers propelled by light. In the Art Deco
Building with a half sun on top, glowing
Like an icon or cross on a church
Rising up over the sugar refinery, docks
And our real lives we never thought about
While we were in Hollywood, America
The good old U S of A in Australia singing
God Save the Queen, while we stood head
To shoulder with women and men dressed in suits
And the other kids who knew all the words
To an anthem sung into our colonial heads
At school and on TV without needing a script
Or subtitles on the bottom of the screen
With a bouncing ball swooping over lyrics.
At the matinee we sighed when the lights were dimmed
Slipping down into our seats and out of our bodies
Onto the screen where film goddesses always ended up
With impossible heroes we read about on Fantales wrappers
While we crunched through to chocolate inside vermillion
Jaffas and licked wafered vanilla icecreams.
Chilled when the lights went out once upon a time
And the curtains opened to Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho
Mother told me to cover my eyes while
She held my ears and screamed so loudly
A rush of shivers snap froze the audience
To their seats. Black and white or
Technicolor…she liked a good murder.
While her daughters plagiarised musicals
To re-enact on the front verandah for kids
Who lived on the Avenue. Costumes, makeup,
Some lousy script of song and dance everyone
Sat through and wanted more of every Saturday
After Mum had said: ’Let’s go to the flicks’
And we came home from that dreaming place
Where the Sun is now derelict and only lights
Up for vandals, who make fires in the dress
Circle, front and back stalls, turning the floors
And ceiling into charcoal as delicate as Violet Crumble.
Copyright Helen Chierego.
(Note: I wrote this poem long before the revival of the theatre when the interior was still a burnt out ruin.)