Moving On

The children grew up knowing
their schooling was expected
to lead to paid employment
promptly. Their father expounded
this at the dinner table each
night that he was there – which was
erratic as he preferred the
after work company of his
drinking mates at the pub.

Their mother doing her expected
duty attended parent teacher meetings.
On advice received the mother
guided the children to university,
to be funded by bursaries, by
holiday and part time work.
The mother had not been allowed
to attend university herself and
was glad her children were to attend.

Too late the father saw that
his children were moving ahead
of him in the job stakes !
He raged at them over the dinner
table each night, denouncing
lazy worthless students.
His children worked hard,
passed their exams, then took
his nightly tirades to heart,
removed themselves from
his home.

The mother was upset.
The father was puzzled.
The nest was empty.

Previously posted May 2016

Moving On

And So She’s Gone

And so she’s gone
freed from a world
where she never found
the safe place she craved
but stayed in her security box
not daring to walk through
its wide open door.

Kept home by her father
except for attending school
his long final illness
forced her out to work
in an alien culture
a strange new world.

Marriage after his death
brought her  to a culture
of home, husband, children.

Her husband, proud of supporting
his family kept her at home
with her woman’s work
in a street with few
young families nearby.
Cautious tentative steps
into women’s afternoon meetings
never filled the gulf inside her.
Her children went out to work,
lived with other young room mates
produced partners and children,
but never filled her
inner chasm of loneliness.

Now her ashes are scattered
over the flowered patchwork
of the city gardens.

She is released.

Previously posted May 2016.

And So She’s Gone

The Phone Call

Her familiar voice
sounds over the telephone
calling for a break
from her loneliness, again.
Across the city the daughter
at home near her professional
job is at a loss for words, again.

Until late marriage
the mother lived her life
at home ruled by her father
until his final illness, when she
went out to work at age thirty,
struggling in her new world.

Now her daughter is single,
middle aged, time for her
to settle down in her parents’ home,
look after them. This is the life
the mother knew, keeps hinting.
She is worn out after battling
marriage, husband, children…
……. and still lonely ….

As she grows older the daughter
has thought she will be able to
link with her mother, find
the fabled mother daughter bond.
“Come home now, it is time
for you to look after us,”
the mother tells her daughter.

And the daughter knows
they will never connect now,
whether she stays in the world,
or returns to her parents’ home.

Previously posted May 2016   

The Phone Call

Liverpool Street Station

Friday night 6pm
in the surging heaving mass
of Liverpool Street’s main concourse.
Milling crowds from underground lines
entangle with those from
British Rail lines on the other side.
Individuals slide through
this impasse on their own
singular trails from
one side to the other.

Returning to this megalopolis
after a long absence I am meeting
a friend at the information counter.
Passing through this concourse
to and from work for years
he is unconcerned.
My eyes and ears
are overpowered in this
densely packed humanity.

The counter stretches to
unexpected lengths before me
with no sign of him.
On our mobile phones
we find we are both
at the counter and talk
each other past sections
of its noticeboards.

At last we are at
the same place.
We turn slowly around
to find ourselves
back to back.

Previously posted April 2016

Liverpool Street Station

A Winter Afternoon

A distant wintry sun dimly lights
this Saturday afternoon from a pale
blue sky dotted with faint cloud drifts.
The stark bare branches of the tree
next door make a tracery against
the eggshell blue dome overhead.
Last night’s frost on the grass has
melted but not yet dried out
in the long solstice shadows.

On the concrete driveway by the old car
a heavy metal tool lands with a clank
as Father tries yet again to remove
a reluctant wheel from its axle
to replace a punctured tyre, muttering
aggressively at its dogged intransigence.
The rugby game broadcast from the
wireless beside the open dining room
window has only bad news from his
favourite team. He is not supposed
to swear when children are nearby.
His mood worsens.

We quickly move away to continue
our game at the end of the garden.

Previously posted April 2018

A Winter Afternoon

Climbing Trees

Brother fell out of the plum tree
from ten feet up and landed
flat on his front like a belly
flop at the swimming pool.
Sister and I said he wasn’t hurt
because he took so long to cry.
Mother was preparing for the family
Christmas dinner in two days time,
said he looked all right to her.
He recovered in time for dinner.

Sister fell out of the Pohutukawa tree
from eight feet up off the arching
branch over the driveway,
right in front of Uncle Alf’s car
as he started down the drive. Father
said she should watch what she
was doing as he brought cold
beer for the shattered nerves
of Auntie Flo and Uncle Alf.
She recovered in time for dinner.

The young black cat fell out of
the peach tree from nine feet up.
He howled loudly then grabbed
at a branch with all four feet
on his way down. He wasn’t stupid.
People who fall out of trees
get into trouble. He didn’t.

I didn’t fall out of a tree. I was
scared of heights and never went
up to the high bendy branches.
People who fall out of trees
get in to trouble. Still they do
get dinner at the end of the day.

Previously posted April 2016

 

Climbing Trees

Rubbish Day

On rubbish collection morning
house holders put out bags of
rubbish  for the four wheeled
monster to devour as it crawls
through the quiet suburban streets.

Fat council bags line our
streets grassy verges to
the joy of neighbourhood
cats who are not kept
inside over night unlike
their canine counterparts.

While early risers wait till
morning, others put their bags
out the night before to the
joy of marauding cats who
slash them open hunting the
source of delicious smells in
a broad trail of torn food bags
tubs boxes spilling a river of
food scraps over grassy verges.

Keeping dogs inside over night
has not saved rubbish bags
from rugged destruction.

Rubbish Day