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Family Favourites

Heat like the flat of someone’s hand.

Each song is like a brick

baked by thick voices into something else:


My mum can make a fist

with her whole body;

can sulk with her upper arms.

“Family Favourites”.

The soldiers’ wives’ requests

are like a parody of how she waits,

caught in the slow swell of a summer afternoon.

I’ve drawn a clown;

my hand keeps drawing it.

It wants to take the wait, the strings,

my mother’s mood (it settles

on things, like dust)

and force them into something smooth and effortless:

a strong line.

It keeps doing it, past eloquence,

scrubbing and scrubbing

at the page

until what’s left is blackness

and an ache,

the promise of my father.

Later, he will grin and gurn and keen –

each shift is ontological.

My leg will hammer up and down;

will scrub the other leg.

He will upend the wine bottle, like ketchup;

ask me if I love him.

My leg will tell him.


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