Talking to Auntie

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Something is on your back doorstep
and you don’t realise how big it is.
With her cataracts removed
her grey slacks have turned blue
and her stories become slanted
when my mother walks in the room.
Plunger Pat, Shine Ryan, Birregurra Bill
She slips into a church that smells of onions
a man who dined with his mother
instead of his wife each night.
Like hot tea filled to the brim
I’ve inherited a world
that doesn’t guarantee the present.
In a kitchen bathed with light
she offers me dry biscuits
another blind auntie smiling beneath her cataracts.
I feel like I’m cutting my throat
if I don’t eat some potatoes each day.
I ask for stories and she gives me facts
so strange, they must be fiction.
Everything she owns is moored to memory
passed around to the music of footy commentary.
Do you want another cup of tea?
No, well you’re not a tea drinker then.
I was thirteen when she gave me a cigar
behind the Hummocks at Killarney Beach.
Her skin is wrinkled
as a farm in Tyrendarra
his enlistment at lunch
a soldier settlement in Tarrone
a brick veneer in Koroit.
Like entries in a farmer’s diary
her stories shadow Aboriginal history.
She lives between the friends who have died
and cards each fortnight. Making do
collapsing after two beers on a hot afternoon.

 

 

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Oh I DO so like your poetry, Brendan!
glen avard | 09 November 2010


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