Markings 74

December 13, 2017

Queensland Poetry Festival – Val Vallis Award

Second Prize

 His Master’s Voice

for my father

 

1. Shovel

 

Beneath a trademark

rust -

 

the worn calligraphy

of work - still

 

stamped on the shaft.

The work ethic

 

of his generation.

Not replaced

 

but repaired,

over and over again.

 

The patchwork

of so many years

 

made stronger always

at the broken place.

 

2. Fishing Sinker

 

Making with him as a child

spoon-sinkers for the dragging surf

 

of Christmas beaches.

Molten lead - poured

 

into his workman’s thumbprint

into sharp wet sand

 

a metaphor that might turn

base metal into something precious.

 

Handing carefully

the small crucible to me,

 

that first time - to make my own,

after his fashion. Lies now

 

within my grasp. The alchemy

of all that I once had from him.

 

3. Lino Knife

 

The blade

a small silver crescent moon

 

of tempered steel

honed to a razor:

 

he might test along

the dark hairs on his hand.

 

And then the cut and slice,

a secret pact

 

between his eye and fingers.

The sharp smell of new

 

yellow linoleum. The dark red

inlay of swirls and shapes

 

and then the quick fish

that swam beneath the knife.

 

4. Golf Spoon

 

A khaki canvas bag

of wooden sticks

 

he shouldered across

the bare earth and stony

 

golf course

at Tumby Bay

 

raking the sand

as an auxiliary for grass

 

always a birdie

on the fifth

 

an eagle on the ninth

and who used to say

 

the best wood in his bag

was his pencil.

 

5. Fountain Pen

 

For four years

in Darwin after the Japanese

 

poured his heart out

in a river of love

 

the blood transmuted

into blue ink

 

through the small black

Bakelite pen

 

one for every day

to the woman who was not

 

my mother then

a marriage in only words

 

burning them all after he died

before she got too old to forget.

 

Jeff Guess

©Jeff Guess 2017

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Share on Facebook
Share on Twitter
Please reload

Featured Posts

What are the 'Essentials' of a Good Poem? - Markings 150

May 15, 2019

1/6
Please reload

Recent Posts

April 28, 2020

April 27, 2020

April 24, 2020

April 18, 2020

April 14, 2020

April 1, 2020

March 31, 2020

March 21, 2020

March 20, 2020

March 15, 2020

Please reload

Archive