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…