Morning in Goroka by Maj-General John Pearn, AO, RFD
One awakes, the memory of so many similar awakenings afresh, to the sound of rain, rain that is heavy, full and deep-sounding, which itself carries a feeling of timelessness in this mountain place. The rain beats to a cadence. Not the lively rising-falling of the laughing voices which will soon ring out on the road outside; rather an impelling slow waxing and waning. Then the deep inexorable drumming begins to fade, and just when it must needs soften to the point of ceasing, again the rain swells with a force that strikes the listener passive.
The early light is grey and diffused. No sparkling dawn here, but a spreading of the new day through the clouds and mist. A light that is in monochrome. A light that has no shadows. A light that is just there, without source, and which hovers without increasing until the day is well on.
Goroka is at the centre of a valley, with its mountains encircling in the middle distance. Every morning the same scene replays. The grey light reveals the dense cloud-mist which covers all the valley. Clouds so white they appear solid; and which, falling to the surface of the land itself, make one’s world simply the diffuse-lit epicentre which is oneself. And in the distance, all around, peak the ring of mountains. Mountains of matt deep grey, here obscured by cloud now changing, there visible as the ring-barrier that is the circlet of this place.
Here, the dawn is the lessening of the dark. Here, the sound-calls of the living world are reversed. Man before nature. Always with the first light come the sounds of humankind.
Men and women on the road, the intimacy of talking, or the startling closeness of a friendly call. Men and women already walking—travelling from who knows where—with a bilum of vegetables, or a pikinini, or a doublet of two youths on the road—to where? •