Undergrowth dense, paths grown-over, filigreed gloom
drapes across the day - and dead leaves, stirred
by fitful breezes, whisper like the turning of pages:
Know the forest, touch its pulse, study its ways, the habits
of its shy creatures. Surrender to its mysteries. Strangers
come and go. Observe them. They too have their place.
And if in some hidden glade you meet another who, like you,
knows the forest, and thereafter feel the sun more warming
on your back, the wind less cutting on your cheeks,
then search no more. Stay. There is no better place.
The undergrowth, so robust, holds the madding crowd
at bay. Leave - and never find that glade again.
'Mr Hardy' was published in Eureka Street.
When Daedalus fastened those homemade wings,
first to himself and then to his golden boy,
he warned how wax would melt should they soar
too near the sun. 'Fly close by me,' he said,
'and we shall flee this tyrant of a Cretan king.'
The architect of the labyrinth was not the last father,
lofty designs in ruins, to lose a son to death, exile,
estrangement, even madness, and be taunted ever after
by albums that frame a boy, blank pages for the man;
shrivelled blooms, a makeshift cross, a roadside ironbark;
the unrelenting silence of birthday telephones;
the risen sun's first gilding of the Icarian Sea.
'Golden Boy' was published in Meanjin.
My father was ten years old when South Melbourne Football Club
won its last premiership in 1933. The club, reconstituted as the
Sydney Swans in 1982, won AFL premierships in 2005 and 2012.
He told me he took a train to Melbourne, watched
his Swans play, fell asleep on the homeward journey,
missed Bungaree, and walked miles from Ballarat
to his parentsí farmlet in the heart of the spud country.
I see him tramping an empty road, blackness mitigated
by a wan winter's moon, hear the clash of leather boots
on bitumen, the baying of disturbed farmyard dogs; him
scarcely more than a big boy who played bush footy
unready for sudden fatherhood, never again to quicken
to another triumph before he was coffined beneath wreaths
of white and red blooms, his Swans long flown from
their lake to nest by the shores of a virescent harbour,
the gilt of heyday glories peeled from the walnut of honour,
the pavilions of his rapture crumbled into ruins.
'Swansong' was published in Eureka Street.