Devouring the (Un)Happy Years

1 February 2015

Grandfather had stubby tough hands
that fit within green plastic bucket
layered wet manure into cement-square garden beds
forged New South Wales Railroads
and sunny fat plum trees
in his long grey-paling Yagoona yard.
Didn’t talk
while drinking milky tea
fortified by garage copper still
read broadsheet news
at red linoleum tabletop
bunkered in household-kitchen
doled hard-edge
50 cent
to give hairy brown shoulder hug
smelling thick of pipe tobacco.
Horn-rimmed heavy glasses
Bonds tight blue singlet
matching job faded Stubbies,
embodied eastern European desire
to make Australia home
he spoke five languages
while casting State Government lines
taught other immigrants English
practicing their tongues.
Not once conversed with me about labour
hammering metal inside work camp.
After broken dawn sabre charge
across infantry
left light horse shoes fallen
on forest road
flanked
machine-gun torn
Polish grass
of Krojanty field.

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