Breakout

 

The carvery lunch at Grandad’s RSL
is the best we can afford these days, a treat
for battlers.  There’s a smell of yesterday
piped across the floor, where vets hum foreign songs
and drink about the war.

But the carpark today has a busload of
photo-collectors, clicking their Nikons and
smiling inscrutably.  And he coughs and checks,
the old man, baulks and walks away.

Don’t go in there, son, won’t go in there
Ripped out my nails and burned off my hair, son
Don’t go in there, I won’t go in there

So off to the caf for a java and a posh bit to eat
while his demons devour five dollar pork
at the opposite end of the street
and his yesterday-smell is further away
than tomorrow’s insistence on leaving behind
the crippled, the starving, the burned and the blind
the edges torn out of the mind

But the garden that Nakajima created is quiet
in contrast, each November when tireless shutters
and lenses are stowed beneath the hush.  Sakura Matsuri
still echoes, though the best blossoms have long since blown
away.  I don’t ask if there are cherries on Kokoda,
or lining that damned railway.  Why rake the sand
with the nails of dead soldiers?

It is a haiku landscape that sparks the dreaming.  This
silent bonsai is not its father elm.  What seems strange
is simple through another eye, and I
can only ask.

Grandad lived and died in yesterday.  He is headstone
heavy on hard won ground, but I found a pebble
that sang the songs of mountains.