They’re coming now
One at a time
Evenly spaced but accelerating
A train of thought
Clattering through with a rhythm
as you pick up the pace
as you leave
The first rolled toward me
Allowing itself to unfold and let me examine it
It was packaged and grouped
Separate moments bound together.
on the worn green-brown-orange carpet
thumbing through all of the pages
of the illustrated guide to New Zealand fish
Aiming and pausing,
mainly on the scattered colour plates
I linger on the John Dory
and I tell you he’s my favourite
The net has been out for days.
The sea too-rough.
I’m up at the caravan the day you finally get out there
to drag its contents in.
In the middle of everything.
You came all the way up the beach
through the January campground to find me.
I still feel the delight and dismay
You’d caught him.
but… too far gone.
Snagged for days and nights in a net
Almost a husk of a John Dory…
but the jump in my chest
that you remembered.
came the ducks
Husband and wife I guess
strolling up our driveway
one Saturday morning.
That humorous spark in your eye
with the slightly mad grin
wordlessly – almost always wordlessly – communicating
your insane plan
You’ve decided to entice them
into the garage
Mum is out in the car
so there’s space
(these things always happen when she’s not here)
I think I handed you the crust left from breakfast
crumb after crumb
they waddle trustingly after you
after us, into the shed
No idea what your plan is.
And then you pulled the roller door.
So hard, so fast
So screechingly loud.
We are plunged into a storm
of darkness and duck
My tiny self (am I 6?!)
as two terrified, fat, waterfowl
hurtle through the air
and slamming repeatedly into the windows.
I look at you through the chaos…
You’re loving it.
Realising it’s not going to work,
but loving it.
Chuckling away at the absurdity
(and maybe my panic)
as you give up on home-kill for dinner.
triggered by the last
in its duck-related category.
Mum is away at a women-y conference
(see what I mean?!)
it’s dark outside so it might be winter?
and there you are
on the black and yellow and white
near the cupboard with the blue dish of sugar
rough wooden board on the lino
dismembering a duck
with a small… axe?
Is that real?
I’m not certain of that detail,
but that’s how I remember it.
Off with each leg
A “Shhhh” signal (with the wrong finger)
and a chuckled – “Don’t tell yer mother”
Maybe I crept out of bed because of the noise?
bare feet on the cold kitchen floor,
the sound of crickets.
I don’t know,
but I do know I felt thrilled,
to be in on the secret,
and the humour,
and the gore.
with you sole-charge
Mum at a womens retreat again
you blew my mind with hot cocoa.
I’m sitting propped up in your bed
first thing in the morning – like always
expecting a milo, watery and weak
when instead, bearing my lurid orange, hand-made little cup
(did some lady from church make that?)
you produced a beverage
“What is this??”
eyes popping out of my head, blurry in chocolate-scented steam.
You reply in disbelief that I’ve never had one before
something in the way you are, tells me cocoa is a memory for you too.
I remember your delight in being the one to introduce me
and then hiding your secret technique for making it amazing
There was a way.
You had a way for everything
The tightest good night tuck-ins ever.
Scarcely able to breathe,
toasted sandwiched, on a press
Winter time with its chills,
meant Vicks sandpapered into my chest and back
with your chapped, builder hands.
And the squishy jube kind of Throaties lozenges snuck from your private stash
in the bedside drawer,
or the truck.
with daylight savings leaking through all of the closed venetians
Cicadas in stereo
Sticky and hot and tired and irritable and unable to fall asleep
Occasionally you would notice
in the ad-break
and waft a breeze over me with my thin blue and white sheets
Your genuine wonder
at the world around you,
at the baby birds in their nest
woven into the eventually doomed lemon-drink tree
You propped up your homemade wooden ladder
and fetched me to see them too
tiny and ugly with their bulgy closed eyes and wide open chirpy mouths
Delighted and quiet we watched them.
After heavy rain,
we’d climb in the truck, drive over all of the bridges
and look at all of the rivers
Cyclone Bola led to hours of driving,
looking at all of the farmland collapsed, ruined, and sodden.
So much wonder and fascination.
So much insistence that I see it too
Thank you for taking me.
Your truck with its particular engine noise,
and quirky windows
the smell of sawdust and oil
the rattle of tools on the floor
having to perch my feet on top of the pile
in front of the passenger seat
You’d brake at the letterbox daily
on your return home from work
letting me run out to you,
climb up, hold that thin black steering wheel
and drive it into the garage
Immediately raiding behind your drivers seat
for the old vanilla bottle of milk you’d taken for smoko
warm from the long day in the heat
I loved that ritual
I remember being very small
and riding in the truck with you to the dump
You’d grin and let me know when to stand up on the seat
scratchy, broken, worn leather seat-back prickling my tiny bare arm
I held on while you swooped down that sudden drop on Springfield road
Laughing with you as I squeal, my tummy somewhere in my chest.
Nothing filled your heart more,
than your girls being kick-ass
At 3 I declared myself able to run around the block alone
told you, across from me
over the marmite, butter and pale green shakers
at the lunch table with the bumpy yellow cloth
You scoffed and said I would be too afraid
so I let myself out the door and down the road.
I can still feel the rough of the hot concrete under my small feet
hear the sound as they pound a rapid rhythm
around the corner,
past the house with the overgrown garden where Witchypoo lived
round the next corner and down
pausing (like always) to pat the black stone dog
on the wall at the brick house
thrilled at my freedom, heart bursting with it
round the third corner
past the big transformer up high with its perpetual ominous hum
finally rounding the last corner and seeing you looking for me
at the other end of the street,
expecting that I’d give up and come back the way I left.
I remember you turning around,
but your face,
and your laugh
your surprised and proud laugh
at my stubborn independence
It still, a little bit