Crossing the river

The twinkle in his eye told me

He’d caught me testing his impaired vision by

Pointing out the vibrant colours of the Totterdown terraces

Picking away at his weakness to give myself the strength to

Challenge his determination not to

Disclose the detail he was concealing.

The twinkle continued, like fairy lights on a house with the

Curtains closed, a confident assertion that the

Lights might be gaudy decorations but

Someone of wisdom and taste was home,

As he teased the bairn about his

Childhood when the best ice cream was made

By people whose surnames ended in vowels.

She got his point; three generations of us each having our

Unique view of migration, its risks and perils, and she

Rewarded me by recalling the

Sadness she had heard when I told her of the Arandora Star and the

Bardi who died because of the fears of others.

Slyly she added, the fear of the other, we know about that

And he nodded.We knew about that.

Three generations, on a hillside above the city where my

Migrant ancestor tasted freedom and experienced

Hard stares and closed doors.

We knew about the fear of the other, and the fear of being the other.

Driving back across the river after leaving him in the house where

He described the lack of clutter and reduced furniture as

Geriatric feng shui for the partially sighted we talked about the quiet

Certainty of his decision not to be Lazarus

Summoned back from welcome sleep if he could not see that the

Third house from the left was pink, or that the winger on the far side

Had the ball in the wrong hand when he was tackled.

All those years being him, struggling for the right to be himself,

Had sapped his will to be any thing other than who he wanted to be.

She looked along the river to the sea, and said, finally

Once you’ve crossed the river…