On the verandah of my grandparents’ house,
the day falls asleep around me.
This is the roof of my childhood.
And this, the floor. Tin and wood:
silver-grey, sibling corrugations.
Like platforms for family legends
they wait, rehearsing allegories
as if it is always the end
of a sun-limp day, the lucerne cut,
wheat bagged and a needle in the hessian
beckoning its tail of string.

In the fragrant dusk, soil settles.
Crickets, ants and unseen lives
team over cracks in black earth’s surface –
years are strung like tales of Min-Min lights
along this world of roof-creaks,
board-sighs, a home paddock barracking
for the far-off calls of dinner plates,
falling tablecloths, cutlery and relatives.

Time melts here. Ghosts with glasses of Scotch
catching the last day’s light in their hands,
bend their knees, ease back
into squatters’ chairs. I wake.
A cool breeze is balancing
beside the verandah rail, roping it
and ruffling off, up into wisteria leaves:
sitting tenants now, under the roof.
Time melts. On the ends of long wooden arms,
ice, moonlit, hugs the air.

(from Verandahs 1990)


JK A Platform for Legends