Minutes, moments, months: Melbourne
By Haley Zilberberg
i arrived at the tail end of march,
waking up from jet lag once the month
had turned over, a new chapter.
it was not an april like i’d ever known:
no spring, no endless sunshine. there was rain
and cool, crisp air and the sun setting
early. i fell in love with the backwardness
of it all, enjoyed my second autumn
in the span of less than a year.
slowly, the city was becoming mine,
in the same way it became everyone else’s,
i took it by foot, captured the memories
in my mind’s eye: the city’s laneways,
museums and galleries, posh professionals
walking swiftly, friends laughing as they walked
drinking bubble tea, buskers pooling crowds together,
a community of people
together and alone, wandering and found.
one night by the yarra river, the breeze pushed
up against me, whipping against my face. i pulled
my coat against me tighter, watched the lights
along the river as they twinkled, the loud roar of
friday night, voices like a stereo booming out of
pubs and restaurants, winter blossoming against
the warmth of adventure.
a month of libraries, the newness of opening
a textbook, of learning. classrooms filled
with other eager minds, thirsting for more and more.
in the state library, surrounded
by beautiful things, squeezing every drop
out of everything i was given to learn.
in footscray, there is a man singing
and strumming his guitar while his
baby sits in her pram beside him.
there is a guy selling donuts, and the smell
of the donuts claims the corner, delicious
and sweet, you can almost taste them
just by inhaling. keep walking.
you can see people gathering. you can hear
the trains in the background. you
can feel it all.
i let my sister borrow my city for the week,
and she did not want to give it back. we shared
laughter over lattes, walked aimlessly
together, the beauty of the city being purpose
enough. one night as the darkness pulled
down its curtains, we kicked sand along
st. kilda beach, walked towards the penguins,
watched them move, giggling
at their little bodies as they swam
like fish but looked like birds. soon after,
she gave the city back to me, got on a plane
that looked like a bird but flew over the fish,
over the ocean to go back home.
from the top of the roller coaster
at luna park i can see what feels like the
whole world, but really, it’s just a slice
of everything i’ve come to know. it loops,
it dips, i gasp, catching my breath, not
knowing if it’s my stomach getting swallowed
as the roller coaster declines or my awe
of the blue ocean, the seagulls, the lights,
i didn’t know there were birds that lived
in cities that were not pigeons. the oily darkness
of the ravens, the magpies singing,
a red-rump parrot running along the grass,
rainbow lorikeets screeching to usher in the night,
wattlebirds playing in the trees. the end of spring
is beautiful, is loud, is flying by.
on my birthday, we go to the zoo, and i
feel just like a kid again. i stand still as the lemurs
run around me, stick my face against the glass
to see the platypus, sit on the bleachers
to watch the seals happily swim, sit by the pond
sipping on coffee, orangutans swinging
in the distance.
holding hands as midnight creeps,
sitting on the grass in royal park,
fireworks jumping into the sky,
music playing into our headphones
as we drown out the sounds of everyone else
having their own moments
because this one is ours. childen run around,
excited to welcome the new year.
the countdown begins. 3…
2…1… he sky lights up, the city
glowing in the background.
i’ve got my bags packed, lunch boxed,
readings read, and a thrill bubbles up
inside: a new kind of new year.
it’s cold again. the year has wrapped
around itself, formed a perfect loop.
i am right back where i started, but
one year older. i’m seasoned, four seasons,
to be exact, and now i talk about melbourne
like i’m an expert. but i am still learning
about its hidden gems, the beauty of the city