Here’s a poem written in my husband’s voice following a trip back to his birthplace in Northern New South Wales. The poem was awarded “Highly Commended” for free verse at the Henry Lawson Festival, Grenfell in June 2015.
Happy Birthday Aunty!
No, don’t thank me for coming,
for travelling so far.
You’ve brought me here to remember
The sites, the faces, the feelings
I keep buried deep in my memory.
Here’s the hospital where my mother gave me life.
Here’s the house where I spent my first five years of living.
We raised a lamb and I learned about love.
The homestead with my cousins
exploring, climbing, doing battle,
learning to fly from the garage roof.
The abattoir –
mere vestiges remain.
My dad’s first job that set the stamp on his work for life.
The men who knew him well, admired him,
and set him as a gold standard
for his work and his loyalty.
The place where the courts once were
Where mum would play tennis with her friends
until I, with glee, would race my pedal car
beneath the missiles and between their feet.
The church which baptised me
and where I sought refuge
when I ran away from school.
That school which served me well,
had I but known,
but caged me in – ineffectively.
So, please don’t thank me for travelling to be here.
Your gift to me far outweighed
the inconvenience of geography.
To see you well; to revisit family not met in years;
To catch up on sadnesses and triumphs;
These gifts are so precious.
Call me next year, when you have a birthday,
and let’s do it all again.