winter of childhood memories

Winter country shrinks down, dormant,
seeking a response from its sky partner,
hard to separate the earth from weather
or from friends who walk over it
with the cries of offspring
dispensing their rough justice,
the tiny hands of grandchildren
hanging on for immortality.
Absent friends like kangaroos culled
or visiting pockets of pasture
in alternative valleys of the mind.
A little thinning of the herd, prostates
cut or zapped, some early dementia,
bored with society’s rules.
Finding romance, lecturing on ships,
needing new calendar flexibility.

I am not halfway through pruning the vines
sleet is drifting in from the Southwest
the crows are complaining hungry.
I recall fireside company
With a shared remembering
like the lair of native animals.

Writing groups, suddenly we must
get it down. Previous generations
left few notes, knew who they were.
Search for identity, driving us,
nightwatch brings the hero, but
in daylight it is what others see
in the way we queue to be served
and the sinister joy of laughter.

Chatting with country folk about
the dance with stumblefooted nature.
Surfacing of childhood memories.

Clutching the bakelite handpiece,
breathing concentration down the phone
party line, three short rings, one long,
the metallic sound of wire and distance.
Overnight train rattling into the darkness
carrying anticipation, come-on, come-on
to meet wrinkled uncles and facecream aunts
in a place where even time has a suntanned face.

With the mail and the weeks papers, the Chrysler
drifts , with the lazy steering but great donk,
through creeks and washouts to scones and tea
on the wide shady verandah of the mind.
The kelpies chained to their hollow logs,
shuddup.and.lie.down.ya.mongrel.bitch.
The windmill turns impassively feeling deep.
The chooks picking and scratching like poets.
dark interiors of timber pole sheds, held up
by their contents and the old peppercorn.
Machines with great flywheels, now still,
slowed by the drift of children back to the coast.

The thankyou letter, light on the upstroke,
heavy on the down, and keep the letters even.
‘I hope you are well…’(haven’t fallen…)
‘Yours affectionately…’ curiously formal,
‘Your loving nephew…’ too sentimental?
Those first letters were an awkward journey,
the final struggle to sign your name,
try to make it glow with significance,
ambition compressed into a flourish.

Spending hours in the mind’s library,
I am a folder of unfinished poems,
A slim volume irreverent of time

A willy wagtail comes by who knows me
and his confidence calms my discontent
“I am sharing this space and moment…”

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