East Street

From the roof of the flats on East Street I can see the ships in the harbour and on the sea lined up, coming and going and waiting.

All night from my futon lying on the nylon carpet in the ground floor flat on East Street I can hear the cranes unloading the stuff from Asia and I wonder if the ships go back empty because the ore is loaded at other ports like Hedland and Dampier.

Opposite the flats on East Street is a red pillarbox from which we can send a letter to anywhere.

In through the western windows and across the flat on East Street sweeps the sea-scented wind, past my bin and bookcase and over my desk and out.

When a sheep ship comes in, the air on East Street smells like a sewer in a third-world country such as England in the time of Dickens.

The sewers under the ground around East Street don’t have much of a history as far as I know.

When a sheep ship is tied to the wharf the air on East Street brings me the sweat and shit of thousands of captive bodies whose flesh will be sold for profit.

The red pillarbox on East Street somehow still belongs to the government, or perhaps it belongs to the Queen whose initials are probably not on it, or perhaps like the wind on East Street it belongs to no-one.

When the air on East Street smells of captive bodies it’s hard to work without closing the windows and lighting a candle scented with rose or vanilla.

The candles in the flat on East Street were bought from Dusk, a candle retailing corporation.

The candles in the flat on East Street are made from wax taken and modified maybe from the hives of bees, maybe from some black-slicked well in the earth, maybe from somewhere else: I’ve never thought to ask, and I don’t suppose the assistant in Dusk would know.

When my daughter was in the flat on East Street writing, on the paper she’d bought from a stationery retailing corporation with money she got by selling her time and labour to a fast food marketing and retailing corporation, her first paper letter to a friend in Brisbane, she lit her own candle also bought from Dusk but made with soy wax.

No bees were harmed that day in the flat on East Street or so she said.

As she wrote I cleaned the windows and oven and the visible parts of the fridge of the flat on East Street to maintain my good relationship with the property manager from the accommodation and lifestyle marketing corporation, who is coming on Thursday to inspect and report to the owner, a chef named Michael who feeds the workers of the mining corporations, and I saw how the candle grew smaller and the letter grew longer and the gases from the candle and our bodies put smells in the air.

The report on the flat on East Street will say ‘Clean and tidy throughout’ and ‘Tenant presents a lovely home — thank you.’