7. a poem involving a long-term relationship
Yesterday on platform 14
a family returning from the Melbourne Show
waiting for the Ballarat train ...
There are three children, the youngest
hopping around mother.
The older two play a game.
He stands behind her.
He writes on her back, down her spine.
She stands straight and tall
blond hair tied back, hands clasped
before her, and turns to him to guess.
"Correct!" he says, and writes
a new number or word.
Do you remember
that summer we three girls shared
the fold-out couch in Granny's
front room, Tranmere Avenue
perhaps 1956? 58?
We drew pictures through A to Z.
We had to guess. Taking turns
and giggling, you, cousin, like a new sister.
These two on Platform 14 are serious
wordsmiths, she in black and pink
with black-rimmed spectacles
he in black and red, curly-haired.
They give all attention to the game.
We were quiet girls with partying parents
inventing a game that touched
nerves, thrilled without shrieks and shouts.
We would never have demonstrated
such intimacy in public, always wary
of being a nuisance, or just unseemly.
You died so bravely, the celebrant said.
your thoughts always on others, no fuss.
What I still have is the memory
of three "giggling Gerties" sharing a bed
and all the years between, unshared.