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The message of the Manly Cockatiels – John Bartels
They dive. They shriek. They call.
They are the Corsa cockatiels.
Their call is urgent.
Do the crowds on the Corsa hear them?
The young surfer heading beachward.
People walking dogs.
Young mothers pushing prams. Sharing coffee.
Young men walking quickly as they WhatsApp.
All are surfing the ever-living wave of life.
The call of the cockatiels grows louder – more urgent.
He sees his beloved Manly as his ship passes the Heads.
Already he is missing his last walk with her to Shelly Beach.
The waves gently approaching the rocks and then bursting with joy.
How soft she was when he held her.
Her gentle hands.
The intoxicating scent in her hair.
How they spoke of children. How thy spoke of what dog they would get.
How he promised he would come back.
How they tightly embraced.
How they kissed goodbye
How they both cried.
The Heads are far behind now. The ship goes on. out to sea. And on and on.
He thinks of her constantly.
He crosses the endless Southern Ocean.
Then its beauty of Cape Town.
Then it’s the Atlantic.
Then its London.
Then finally, Flanders.
The call of the cockatiels grows more urgent now.
Diving, shrieking, and calling they swirl around the Corsa Cenotaph.
Their call grows strangely quiet as an elderly woman gently places flowers at the base of the Cenotaph.
Carefully she sprays the flowers with scent. She waits a while. She leaves and slowly walks away. She is going to Shelly Beach.
The cockatiels watch her go and then start again their diving and shrieking.
Their message is clear to all on the Corsa and beyond :