May 11, VIRUS 2020

Kidney damage, blood clots and even “covid toes” prompt a reassessment of the disease and how it should be treated. Washington Post

Green bans leader Jack Mundey dies aged 90. The Australian

If, as some forecasts predict, the unemployment rate rises to 20%, up to 43 million Americans could lose their health insurance. That could result in deaths with people unable to afford treatment. Guardian

There’s something profound about the irony. The world’s highest coronavirus death tolls belong to two countries whose leaders came to power promising the restoration of greatness and control – the United States and Great Britain. Guardian

Mutation: Scientists concerned that coronavirus is adapting to humans. Guardian

NSW records just one new coronavirus infection. ABC

Not everyone over 65 wants to just stop. That’s why retirement villages are doomed. ABC

How erotic poetry is helping Afghans through lockdown. Guardian[1]

Urunga wetlands

Narcissistic Purple Swamphen

We start with our bird survey at Urunga – the lowest numbers ever. Two Purple Swamphens!

Bishop’s Head Gumtree Galls

How living beings go about the business of living is so surprising. These galls are on a young eucalyptus. I find out they are Bishop’s Head Gumtree Galls!! Made by a scale insect that lives inside the gall from 1st instars to adult. The adult female stays inside the gall while winged male leaves its gall in search of females. (A strategy used by the wasps that pollinate figs).

Black Swan, Urunga wetlands

In the distance a Black Swan floats in the middle of weed that looks like a perfect bowling lawn.
Wyn thinks she saw a Wonga Pigeon, but they are not on the sheet. I err on the side of caution.

~

I am stopped outside the surgery, a young guy (on his gap year I think I overheard) asks how I am feeling. Great I said, but this wasn’t enough. He went through a long list of symptoms. I take the face mask he hands me and rinse my hands in gel.

I am waiting, breathing is stifling, my reading glasses steam up. Time slows. I read all of ‘The Entreaty of the Wiideema’, a Barry Lopez story that sounds like an anthropologist’s reportage.[2] Then start writing a poem. The nurse call me in. I unbutton my shirt, she attaches the electrodes. I say I thought a job requirement would be warm hands. She laughs, I must have poor circulation. Well, warm heart and it can’t be lethal. My mother has white, frigid hands, but is 94 and still going, with a better memory than me. She is lovely.

I sit back and read my chart, doesn’t sound great. The Doctor calls me. I have only met him once before. He is wearing a green gown and mask. I greet him in the corridor with, You look like you are about to cut me up. It can be arranged, is his response.

ECG OK, ectopic heart beat odd spikes, quite common, he says. I ask to use his electronic scales, weigh more than ever. The cheap mechanical one we bought a week ago, like ones we used at home 50 years ago, was telling the truth after all. I express surprise. We are not eating that much and smaller portion sizes. I hardly drink but admit chocolate is my weakness. He says give blood pressure pills a go. Do they come in chocolate flavours, No but I can give you some laxatives that do. I laughed, a few months in India and my story of constipation was written out. Side effects? A dry cough. No, not with a main symptom of COVID-19. How confusing. Give them ago, see me early July.

My life is turning. Time is twisting around me like the vine I photographed earlier.

~

From our lounge and bedroom the afternoon light spinning through Jagun is mesmerising.

~

Sad to hear of Jack Mundey’s death. I met him just the once at a friend’s Citizenship Ceremony in Hyde Park Barracks, Sydney (a former barracks, hospital, convict accommodation, mint and courthouse and now a museum) 20 years ago. I was fan of his green bans and his tough stance against development for the sake of development. Here is an obituary – ‘The Greens leader Adam Bandt said Mundey was a ‘leader and a visionary’.

I had been listening to the wording of the ritual – no mention of indigenous Australians, I was shocked. (My ceremony had been conducted in Petersham Town Hall years earlier, and the master of ceremonies was the Leichardt Council Serbian translator, who no-one could understand.) I introduced myself and we had a chat. I said I thought it was a travesty, he agreed and introduced me to our master of ceremonies the NSW Governor General Marie Bashir. I hadn’t thought before, but she was in direct line from a man I admire for doing the best he could in abject circumstances, Captain Arthur Phillip RN. She agreed that the ceremony should be changed to acknowledge the first peoples. They both suggested that I should do something about it, and contact all the Governors Generals. I said I would, tried for a week. Back then it wasn’t that simple, then I got distracted – the curse of being a poet – sad to admit my dilettantism/laziness.

 

[1] ‘Persian erotic poetry has a very long tradition. “Love poetry, including poetry that emphasises physical love and love-making, has been one of the most cherished aspects of the millennium-old Persian poetic tradition, of which Dari [the Afghan dialect of the Persian language] literature is part’.’ Stefanie Glinski, ‘Love and desire’, Guardian 11 May 2020

[2] in Field Notes, Avon, 1994. ‘An anthropologist traveling with an aboriginal people finds that, because of his aggressive desire to understand them, they remain always disturbingly unknowable.’