I walk with pockets of keys, dog treats, selected cards, a mobile phone
leash in one hand, the other free to pick up the 5kg dog if needed.
Ahead, she walks: a large handbag on one shoulder, a scooter on that arm
and her 12kg toddler on the other hip. Even with all this
she is still talking – her phone on “speaker” in her scooter hand.
As we overtake, the toddler gives me a half smile
although I think it was really for the dog
who is white and fluffy with dark, merry eyes.
I don’t look at the Mum because she’s on the phone
which as good as puts her in a booth as far as eye contact goes.
But I want to communicate empathy
with carrying all that stuff. I remember well the ache
of toddler arm. And so, on the way home, I let my children cycle
bag-free. They sail ahead wind-whipped and Fridayish
while the dog coughs and puffs against the leash
and I try to keep two too-small backpacks balanced on my shoulders.
Even so, I feel as whisper light as those
gossipy casuarina needles ten or more metres above my head.