This one is pretty old, but it’s time it saw some light.
I.M. Fred Roberts
It was earlier that he entered
while I slept. Brass ringlet circling
wire bones of his wrist. Full teeth
straight and white. They were
I think the only thing about him
that was false. Grandfather
old friend ever now you walk the timbers
lost in the same still waters as in life—
even death for you a thing well considered, papers
stacked on the desk’s scooped grain, pathways
of farewell. Your lessons always
those of thrift: the nutritional density
of orange peel, a POW’s hunger
so sharp he ate soap; your quiet
one of earthquakes, the trembling private
tranquillity of the haunted. Fremantle winds
do violence to the jasmine
move your hollow shape about
the needle leaves, like rain, early morning.
Heaven is uncertain
the house full of ghosts. Looking north
across the Swan, dust has exploded the city.
It is always this way in spring—some dry thirst
air thick-filled with particles of the dead.
My granddad, Fred, and sister, Annelies, together on the Hawkesbury River.
I guess I would have been about fifteen. His last trip east.