Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Tuesday Poem: Allen

he treasures this
even above
his stomach

tenderly grazes it
on books
teaching tapes
and ancient hi-fis

holds it like a flag
before his daughters

tells them they must
go to university
so they can care for him when he’s old.


he has made his name
by mastering
the weaknesses
of human breath

knows each rhonchi
by its sound
feels the depression
of young ribs

sits behind
his rosewood desk

knows sometimes
he can give back
the lightness of air
sometimes not.

it was a chair
so fine
it did not need
any embellishment

he touched its curves
added a cushion
for comfort
it became his throne

on long days
it called to him

when he sat down
he smelt incense
and dumplings cooking
in ancestral halls.

he left the towers
of Hong Kong
their 1970s beehives
of people

asked his lady
to trust him
found himself
with a flat tyre

on a backroad
to Pukekohe

some Maoris stopped
he was worried at first
he still hates the thought
of force-fed pavlova.

in his daily life
he strives
for balance
and regulation

tells his three daughters
to walk every day
always to breathe
and stay happy

at night he checks email
for news of his mother

keeps his passport
knows he could leave
at any time.

he tells his siblings
that bowels
and urine
become more important

as you age
he likes to think
they still listen
to their older brother

once a year they return
home like birds

fight like tigers
eat like pigs
kiss their mother
hope for another year.

More of my Human Archeology series, this time in honour of my dad. It was at times difficult, renegotiating the relationship between us as I gradually claimed my adulthood. But it's beeen worth it, and as I get older I realise more and more what my dad had to give up (and still deals with) to give us a life in NZ. This is posted in honour of my dad, and of the Metonymy exhibition, which has just finished with a memorable performance night.

1 comment:

Kathleen Jones said...

This is a fascinating poem - or series of poems. They are so cleverly crafted and I think they convey your father's life very well. Most of us are ignorant of what it must mean to spend a lifetime in exile, even if chosen.