Borne Back


Driven through time to my old area,
the day splendid, unlike movie funeral weather,
an observation Jane would have appreciated,
I gaze at sere paddocks, towards mountains, picture
my former home, the huge bird’s nest fern now splaying
from the sandpit built when my tall men were tiny.


Spotlighted by angelic glass, Jane’s loved ones bear up,
fill in those gaps we each have of friends’ lives.
Outside, a smiling stranger in dark shades approaches,
raises them to reveal himself as my ex-plumber.
There is always someone you know out of context at funerals.
I shake the priest’s soft hand, thank him, share a joke.


Back home, another bewildering loss, this time a vase
despite fewer places for downsized me to search.
The vase won’t hold water, a reminder of audacity.
I find it on my desk where I placed it when moving.
Realisation repeated, glasses, books, secateurs.


The priest spoke of how funerals have changed
since he conducted his first when I was a Grade Sixer,
a boisterous year I would repeat if granted a wish.
He was already well into his career of caring
by the time I lugged my dodgy vase across Europe.
In my pew I mulled over these correlations in our lives,
the lights of cities ever blinking off then on again,
to not forget them, the reality and the dreams.


© Ian C. Smith




Stained Glass



The war over, monotony settling on us
in Twickenham, a long way from Jerusalem,
nothing fractured bar my attitude to churchgoing,
I breathe hassock-dust kneeling, rain clattering
against the church door, apostles looking down
in cloud-muted colours on poor sinners.
I have forgotten my raincoat again.
The vicar prays for our forgiveness,
eyes squeezed shut like other penitents’.
Restlessness dooms me to swerve from my mother’s
high, hopeless expectations of my salvation.
A blinding flash, theatrical thunder, enlightens St. Paul.
My knees hurt, body a map, bruises towns,
resentment as I ease the pain surreptitiously,
a sense of unfairness innate
as it is with most children.
Already a non-believer, I believe
my mother should attend instead of forcing me.
I fear the scourge of her wrath again over
my soaked best clothes, not eternal sin.


© Ian C. Smith