Acumen, May 2005
Now, after all these years,
I’m coming to
cottage gate once more, feeling the wood’s
The sun is hot on my skin.
December — scarlet gum trees are blazening
I climb up the untidy garden track.
reach the top, see the house again.
a kingfisher perched on the telegraph wires:
of blue-green, gold breast, he watches.
the kitchen window I can see my Mother—
radio’s playing, sun scorches the window frames.
trickles down my forehead, my eyes are stinging;
an uncanny stillness in the noonday air.
radio announcer’s voice seems to echo
I stare at my Mother, standing at the window.
she shouts, rushes out into the garden.
voice quavers, she drops the kitchen knife;
shines on the blade — I shrink from its flash.
from my forehead drenches, stings my eyes.
glance at the gum trees, their carmine flourish like blood.
kingfisher flies away, I’m facing my Mother.
as if I’m standing before some terrible gateway—
pass through the gate, leaving my childhood behind.
holiday’s done, the appalling future looms;
gum trees seem to be bleeding in this furnace,
sky whitens, lit by the blinding sun.
Jane Fraser Esson