I wanted to dance with my father,
dance fast over dirt tracks,
dance full-flight across creeks;
breeze past the watching crows,
surprise every sheep and cow:
jazz-waltz, foxtrot, jive –
to find some joie-de-vivre
that seemed to pass him by.
At my first bush dance,
he pulled me to my feet, saved me
from being a wallflower:
his way to say caring.
He was master of the slow waltz:
I’d seen his cool toe-balancing,
the grace of it, guiding my mother
into circles of Lehar and Strauss.
But the foxtrot…
Too fast, he shrugged, I’m past it.
I didn’t believe him, standing there on the edge
of my dream with his face slightly pained –
as if giving bad news
and the gentle side of him spoke:
a look that said he was vulnerable,
my Dad, opened up,
the weight of days holding his feet
to the boards.