A Portrait Of My Father


My father draws a blade
along the wired frame
as we watch perfect rectangles
of honeycomb topple into
a stainless steel bowl.

From a hard earned
78 centimetre TV screen
a voice fires . . . massacres mass graves
like bullets into our lounge room
shooting father. Blood
thick as honey runs along
his fragile frame.

On the antenna outside
crows congregate for attack
on the raw liver and heart
he set out as bait.
Father waits by the shed,
air rifle aimed, and fires
a bullet of revenge.

Long ago in his motherland
as he dozed beneath a poplar,
a snake supped nectar
from his angel trumpet ear,
the translucent vessel
of his wisdom. He foresaw
the scenes that flash
before us on the screen.

So we packed our grief and
headed for the land of his dreams
the step-motherland
who’d gag his deepest cries
with lumps of creamed honey.
I watched my father’s tongue
sink to the clay riverbed
of his mouth like a stone.

My ageing father
nursing his swollen knees
collapsed under two decades
of laying tiles, when at dusk
he’d return throwing dollars
in the air like pollen.

My father
rescuing drowning bees
and ducklings from his pool;
stuck in the prickly middle
between mother and me —
calling truce between
the warring sides;
bringing in honey
unaware of the sticky
trail he leaves behind.

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