Tuesday, November 22, 2016
Always wore a three-piece suit and kept lollies
in the pocket of his jacket - you could reach up
and get some after hugging him hello. He came
every Wednesday afternoon, getting the bus
from Epping. Strolling up the drive, shouting greetings
in his deep voice, he would come around the corner
into the yard where my mother and I would be waiting.
She was his youngest, he, the only one allowed
to call her ‘Maggie’. Her eyes would light up
when she saw him and the chuckle rumbling from him
when they hugged was like warm thunder. I stood
to the side, not understanding this transaction,
but feeling like I was running in the sun. Only later,
when he died, did I see my mother cry out her love
as tears marked her stricken face and she loitered
in her darkened room for days. We left her alone.
My sister and I were not allowed to attend the funeral.
“It’s no place for children,” we were told.
I remember being dressed in clean clothes
and having to spend the afternoon not getting dirty
while some cousin, or other, watched over us in the yard.
My mother liked to sing, and for the rest of her life
‘I Wandered Today To The Hills, Maggie’ would conjure
her father - nostalgia’s caul accompanying daily tasks.
We played it at her funeral and it might have been
his chuckle I heard as we shouldered the coffin.
My sister and I are the elders now, and the song has stopped.
21 November 2016