The Poetry Kit
|Ian C Smith|
His Motherís Letters
Itís the bottom desk drawer,
theheavy one, difficult to open,
toclean out, down near the floor.
Inside, letters from twenty years ago.
Her voice still triggers vexation,
the way she calls him `professorí
even though he has no such career,
because, he guesses, her life over,
she resents his late education.
He hesitates at the slight errors,
syntax, word usage or spelling
scarring this script written with her
always in mind for the central role.
She exerts her will by inflexion,
stakes claims according to guilt
or prejudice in the direction
of her own martyrís efforts
and the damnation of othersí.
He flies over past paradox.
His father was homosexual, she hints
Benny Hill style nudgenudge winkwink.
His fatherís `best friendí from army days
sulks, refuses to be best man
because he hasnít met the bride.
How can we know what to think?
Now his parents push their past
from the other side of the world.
They borrow a porterís hand truck
from Pascoe Vale railway station,
sweat, strain until a real truck stops.
A swearing digger, the kind
she scorned for their ignorance,
offers them and their chests a ride.
The boy must already be at school
surviving kookaburra old gum tree-ee
because he remembers nothing of this.
There is almost a poignant aspect,
a woman accused pleading for mercy,
about these letters written in response
to his probing questions she has numbered.
He asked her to tape her answers
but she couldnít cope with the machine
just as she couldnít come clean
about lifeís heavy bottom drawers,
their musty emanations.