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Within Reach

by

Fraser Mackay

another beginning? love?
well letís call it leaping delight...

balmy spring evening drinking cold beer
listening to Neil Youngís ĎFreedomí,
loud enough for it to make sense, long day fencing with Jack
now knackered, but I donít mind the feeling

the swallows have finished building their mud nest on the verandah wall
they will soon no doubt take up residence, one sitting on the eggs
while its mate fetches insects for lunch, then come summer
weíll be watching, you and I, the young ones, their first tentative
flutter of wings

your drum Jo
your beat, yesterdayís tears upon your shoulder, darkness flapping
her great cloak, time apart, our time together unexpected gifts it all
adds up
but hey, Iím tired of numbers let them pass nameless disappearing

I just want

       hear your voice like

                        - the morning bell

                                          chiming the hour -

                                                               descending the
                                               
                                                                                  singing stairs
 


remember the day we discovered the brown snake
in the unfinished bathroom?
we watched it through the safety of the glass door
it was after the bush rats living in there
I was impressed by your curiosity, enjoying the spectacle
four feet of writhing muscular beauty

when the snake went into the other room I gingerly
whisked into the bathroom and opened the outer door
the idea being the snake would eventually
find the open door and slither away

then we walked the three kilometres through the bush to Antonioís
for coffee and cake, or did we, on that occasion drive? I canít
remember
anyway it was the first time you met his new bride Annette she was a
great cook
but her English was scratchy and she didnít say much

when we returned a few hours later, I climbed into my CFA overalls
pulled on the pig skin gloves and armed with a good stick
made a thorough search but the snake seemed to have gone
though one can never be sure

lately Iíve been in excellent spirits
despite carrying a damaged wing
but yeah anything seems possible
even the completion of the bathroom
but give me a break itís only been 4 years
if nothing else itís a barometer
for patience and perhaps engenders a forgiving nature
in my friends...

anyway better light candles the minestrone's bubbling
and what bird is that warbling out there in the black-wattle?
Iím reminded of what this carpenter said at the local pub one evening
when asked by a prospective employer - a local farmer -
what kind of worker are you?
well Iím slow ... said the carpenter, but Iím rough
thatís right, thatís what he said
I was in the bar standing next to him
his new employer just roared laughing
he got the job bloody ... as Antonio would often say
that summer when he told the story to a fresh set of ears

well Jo I feel pretty confident
that I have completely meandered away from the poem
I had in mind for your birthday, but here it is, whatever
it is ... happy birthday.

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