Bonnie Support Services

Bonnie Support Services

A poem by Susan Varga


Forty years ago, we slept on the floor
of a small fibro house scrounged
from the Housing Commission.
We called it Bonnnie’s
and waited
for the first desperate women
to fall in door, trailing kids.

A cup of tea.
A life story.

In the morning the kids played
in the dusty back yard, safe –
for now.

People gave blankets, sheets, chairs.
They understood, without politics,
that this place of shelter
was needed.

Forty years later
Bonnie’s is still here.
A better, bigger house.
Long term services.
Paid staff.

This sole survivor
of the refuge movement
is still needed.

In dark truth
as the killings mount,
needed more.

Today a 40th birthday bash
for Bonnie’s
Yellow balloons in the courtyard.
Yellow and black posters everywhere –
saying “You are NOT powerless.”

Swings and slides for the kids.
A row of suited men,
respectfully silent
in a sea of elated women,

On leaflets, brochures, lips,
an old phrase to gladden my heart –

“By Women, For Women”

Words, Actions

Which really matters?
I always thought words.

Words enshrine actions,
give them weight,
pinning the butterfly
to the page, trapping action
beyond its brief life.

But looking back
across oceans of words,
expended, written, read,
I wonder…
Is it Action,
its simplicity, courage,
rush and surge
which truly transforms?
Not books in their stillness,
shut fast upon shelves.

And yet… and yet …
a phrase,
a submission pleading its case,
a half-forgotten conversation,
can be subterranean weapons,
torpedoes, depth chargers
erupting into action,
here, now!

Then we descend to the street
brandishing placards in bold –

“You are NOT powerless!”