The Man on the Gate

1 February 2012

Oilskin keeping out the cold
the muscles in his legs wearing down
through the under 12s, netball, under 14s,
under 18s, reserves and finally seniors around two.
A job we all expect somebody to do.
A man who complements the scene
of cars nosed up to the boundary fence,
kids walking around with a piece of cardboard
displaying the winning raffle ticket.
Panicked voices rifling through the air –
kick it Moorey. The crowd by the clubrooms
groaning like an ancient ship – red faces, stubbie holders,
Club jackets sponsored by local businesses,
a gathering necessary as a pie from the canteen.
Certain women cheerfully hand over Cherry Ripes,
polystyrene cups with scalding tea. Each person
connected through marriage, kinder, school
or just plain proximity. Generations of neighbours
realizing their duty, lives flowing through moments
of a job – somebody has to blow the siren,
somebody has to cut up oranges into quarters,
somebody has to collect the footy after it sails
over Monk’s barbed wire fence,
somebody has to sit in a car with kids climbing over seats.
It is a scene that swells through the afternoon
like the feet of the man on the gate
shifting his weight on the gravel,
puffy, arthritic fingers fumbling
with the texture of crisp notes.
A small town’s investment in belief.
A community finding something to do.
Each year, he says, will be the last.

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