Docking in Cyberspace
He asks about the old Englishman’s mother’s story of being chased pushing a pram along Chertsey Road by a buzz bomb during the Blitz, how she turned its terrible ticking into a comical scene. Memories, that staple of most comedians. The old Englishman bounced in that pram during this murderous time, perhaps enjoyed the increased pace. They hooked up online, these two who previously spoke when they were eight year-olds, now tessellate the missing years after half a world, and almost a whole lifetime, apart, so mainly know each other technologically.
The other protagonist of this correspondence is Australian, so, late winter (now there’s a ripe joke about old age just waiting to be plucked) when he types emails clumsily two-fingered while his long-ago friend sleeps; summer’s last golden rays for the Englishman who now lives in Geneva, who longs, like him, to escape these lacklustre days, to be youthful again instead of exploring with trepidation the shooting stars of the past in a strange futuristic Googleworld, Shakespearean English arguably more familiar to them than this digital landscape far from those shaping times of world conflict repeated now in the cloned free-to-air documentaries of their dotage.
They share experiences: two busted marriages, short-lived spells teaching, love of postwar British cinema — they could be played by Albert Finney and Tom Courtenay, probably are in their fertile memory-imaginations — travel, former warriors of wanderlust arrived at last in the uncanny realm of cyberspace, defiant sorties into Monty Pythonesque absurdity; weary now, once lithe bodies ravaged relics screaming, enough, yet they recursively hunt down Inboxed news, time ticking, seeking threads of connection back to youth’s joie d’vivre, riding the rush of future’s tide.
Ian C Smith’s work has appeared in Amsterdam Quarterly, Australian Poetry Journal, Critical Survey, Live Encounters, Poetry New Zealand, Southerly, and Two-Thirds North. His seventh book is wonder sadness madness joy, Ginninderra (Port Adelaide). He writes in the Gippsland Lakes area of Victoria, and on Flinders Island, Tasmania.