An Old Poem

This one is pretty old, but it’s time it saw some light.

 

Godspeed

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.

Gramps

My granddad, Fred, and sister, Annelies, together on the Hawkesbury River.

I guess I would have been about fifteen. His last trip east.

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