Hugger-mugger, they called it, well
she’d like to hug a mugger but she’d
much rather hug a mother
who left at the borders of her childhood
a bumbling father behind to cook
for two lost children.
And sure he was a fool
but he was a daughter’s father
too, and boy, did he care,
never trusted that boy she liked,
oh no, always knew he meant trouble—
Real men don’t sit around and mope,
he’d say, Real men act!
I mean just look at your
Sure as sugar in he comes, barging
through the front gate like the
wrath of spacious hell,
his mouth frothing with what
must be fire and a bit of brimstone.
She’d always admired how he spoke
with fervent self-assurance
even though just like dad
he never quite grasped
the scope of things.
The water’s surface is an unfaithful
mirror, each ripple and eddy
shattering her face
like a plate of fine Chinese porcelain.
From here she thinks she sees
the ghost of her mother,
mouthing silence like
some great and beautiful fish.
And then she’s nine again,
with that dark-haired prince,
(her little hamster)
as her father and his uncle
toss sausages on the barbie
and laugh like bulldogs
at the innocence of puppies.
I always loved you, she tells him
in the shade of the fig tree,
and he’s smiling that rare crooked smile
that tells her, for once
he’s not just playing the part, draws
close to his, and the
scent of rosemary blankets them.
Dance with me ‘til morning, he whispers,
Or until we are ghosts.
And she did.