my father’s brother jumped ship at Fremantle

1 August 2015

when my father wasn’t
burying kumara peelings
he was digging a hole
in our Wellington garden
so we could join
our uncle in Fremantle

he drew a rough map
of Australia and wore it
like the prayer his brother wrote
I give thanks for the light here
it’s so yellow

they both took up fishing
standing all night on wharves
with roll your own filter papers
and tobacco tins
it was as if they spent
their lives chasing the same spotty

on very hot days
I often imagined
my uncle wearing
a knotted handkerchief
and saying like my father
time’s getting away

when he died my father
had jaundice he might
well have been the light
in Fremantle

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