Wednesday, 15 August 2012

A recurring dream after father’s death

Caught an old red train from the end of the pier
along the ocean, the water always close,
whispering ‘go home, go home’ as its liquid arms
touched the shore a thousand, thousand times,
to the land bridge that before white man’s heavy steps
connected Tasmania to the mainland. From there
I walked to Tasmania along a path the colour of deer skin,
and passed a lot of faces, who travelled the other way,
I did not know, yet somehow did - as if they were
the faces of my genealogy, a history of people who knew me
and remained silent. Their eyes watched without judgment
as I passed, always drawing closer to the round green hills
of Irishtown, the curving road through the farmland
called Fahey’s Lane, named after some long dead ancestor.
I arrived at a farmhouse, an old weatherboard, unpainted,
the tin roof  covering the porch slumped forward
with the weight of too much rain, the glass in the windows
spotted with dust from past rainfall and everywhere
people walked, looked and did not utter a word.

The sky over head was blue, the distant ocean
also blue tinged with the white tops -
surf coming in to crash the island’s ancient rocks
like kids embracing their mother’s legs.

I came to the front door
and found myself standing beside
my father’s coffin – and then
understood this journey was a trip back
to his and my childhood. I stared down
at my bare feet and guessed they were the size
from when I was eleven, maybe twelve, smiled
at my knobbly knees that smiled
from underneath my old grey shorts.

The sadness of recent months dwindled, like
grains of sand falling down a funnel into
someone else’s psychic trouble.

I turned back to the front yard and saw
a young boy run past, who squealed and laughed,
chased by a mother’s angry voice that called

The call woke me.

I discovered myself in my bed at night; left its warmth
to stand before the window in the sunroom, my feet filling
the indentations in the beige carpet, signs
of too many sleepless nights,
and stared up at the stars - thought about Michael,
my father, dead and buried three months ago.
My silence was not filled with his death
but at the thought
that a son never meets his father as a child
and the knowledge
my own son never will.

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