His Master’s Voice

15 September 2017

for my father

Shovel
i.

Beneath a trademark
rust – spendnought

the worn calligraphy
of work – still

stamped on the shaft.
The work ethic

of his generation.
Not replaced

but repaired,
over and over again.

The patchwork
of so many years

made stronger always
at the broken place.


Fishing Sinker
ii.

Making with him as a child
spoon-sinkers for the dragging surf

of Christmas beaches.
Molten lead – poured

into his workman’s thumbprint
into sharp wet sand

a metaphor that might turn
base metal into something precious.

Handing carefully
the small crucible to me,

that first time – to make my own,
after his fashion. Lies now

within my grasp. The alchemy
of all that I once had from him.


Lino Knife
iii.

The blade
a small silver crescent moon

of tempered steel
honed to a razor:

he might test along
the dark hairs on his hand.

And then the cut and slice,
a secret pact

between his eye and fingers.
The sharp smell of new

yellow linoleum. The dark red
inlay of swirls and shapes

and then the quick fish
that swam beneath the knife.


Golf Spoon
iv.

A khaki canvas bag
of wooden sticks

he shouldered across
the bare earth and stony

golf course
at Tumby Bay

raking the sand
as an auxiliary for grass

always a birdie
on the fifth

an eagle on the ninth
and who used to say

the best wood in his bag
was his pencil.


Fountain Pen
v.

For four years
in Darwin after the Japanese

poured his heart out
in a river of love

the blood transmuted
into blue ink

through the small black
Bakelite pen

one for every day
to the woman who was not

my mother then
a marriage in only words

burning them all after he died
before she got too old to forget.

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