The House No More.
Do you remember that house, which once stood firmly, there -
Its dusty well used verandahs, darkening rooms; its air?
Do you still see its colours as it moved? Do you hear its song?
No more stands there; it has gone; it has moved along.
Is memory clear on boots thrown, knives and blocks of wood?
Resplendent recollection of rollicking, running fights and good
belly-endangering laughter, and kids that all belong
to the house that is no more; is gone; it has moved along?
Do you remember clearly all the lessons that it taught?
Leave space for junk, a whole room, and own up if you’re caught -
Run like hell when chased, don’t swing out wide on the turn -
If your big sister gets you, the thumps you get you earn.
If you can’t read the comics first, rip them up; hide them very well.
Your mother loves you always, even if you’ve been the kid from hell.
Your father is not so easy fooled, but you can make him laugh,
Once a week for society’s sake you have to have a bath.
To have a bath, you turn the copper on and carry in the water.
In times of drought, you share the bath, in a dirt-descending order.
Learn to swim, jump right in a Nun walks round the pool with her cane.
You cop it sweet, and hold it in, till you get home again.
Wet the bed, you know, that you can go, the parents bed is there.
First in best dressed, we all fit in till there is no room to spare.
Legs and arms, and chins and chests, we slumber on peace.
Grandma says eat your tomatoes, or I’ll give you to the police
Play with the kitchen fire and get burned, use butter not margarine Make sure you eat your lollies where you cannot be seen.
If seen, and if bought with the change you weren’t meant to spend,
Stuff them all in before they get you, you need both hands to defend.
The car’s back seat is the place to sleep, and you never have to worry,
For late at night, arriving home your Dad is glad to carry,
Each of us to bed, to sleep so safe, the house it held us loose
To dream and play, to grow away, the lives we had to choose.
And for you, like me stands true the Mother tall and bright?
Everywhere she is quietly tending all her “fires of light”.
Becoming later, what inside herself, she understood was wrong.
No more she suffers, is gone on; for she has moved along.
The Father carven into memory smells of grass and earth and early day.
From black and white photos he, smoking silently, stays away;
Leaves beans, and kids he grew, ungrown, such as us do belong,
Dust unto dust; no more he carries, he has moved along.
In long contemplation, the house in summer light of youth,
rocks and thumps and bursts with life. It tells the truth.
The room to grow, we grew, were gone, but did belong,
to a house that is no more; is gone; we have moved along.
Remember that house we sopped up like gravy into our being,
Is now inside a rumbly, raucous, raging, rightness in our seeing.
Has been fed by inhalation to kids with sparky eyes who came along,
To share the dream of a house, no more; is gone; has moved along.
Therese Mackay 2/12/00