Friday School Pick-up

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.

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