The Wrong Address index
The Last Cockatoo
Illawarra Avenue, Cardiff NSW 1979
Now how about a cup of tea eh,
Sit down sit down, yes tea
Just a minute, nice bit of toast
There I'll make some toast. What do you think?
Hands transparent with age, that try to grip,
Their shaping almost over.
..You need a place ? Merv has a place
Joyce had chuckled like a mischievous cherub,
Old bugger he is, gotta watch Merv.
So here we were.
That crew from the Last Supper clung to a bedroom wall,
Condemned to inspect our squalid condition;
From yellow space helmets their mournful Italian eyes
Tried to make sense of a dozen half-read books,
Unironed shirts, and some alien god's constituent
Obtuse and unrepentant,
Dismantling a carburettor with infinite care
On the Lord's day of rest. We coexisted,
Our syncretic miracle, to find a thread of humour
Over crumpets and honey.
There is a sacrament wherever wry men meet.
They visit me you know; these photos, look,
This is Edwina, a tigress she is,
Never cross that one mate, and here mm
Bessie, the first you see,
We had some times her and me ...
I'll never forget them days by the lake,
And on the other end there is Mavis;
She used to stand right where you are now,
And polish silver,
Always polishing spoons, Mavis.
You'll hear them
Banging when they call at nights.
I never did
But the spirit of another age was near enough,
And the little red-brick church
Where Joyce and Merv met mediums of the dead
Seemed a haven for old chivalries;
They spoke the clear hard tongue of mining folk
And each paused to lend a hand, or smile
While them Ladies on The Hill sniggered mortally,
Passing by to their beauticians and morticians.
The bundy clock and furnace, pitiless work
Had consumed his peers,
Yet Merv found life and frugal nourishment
Like some ancient exotic plant
On the unweeded slag heap of souls.
He didn't wait for friendship;
Frail and stooped in his eighty-third year,
This timeless leprechaun
Embalmed in a grey silk waistcoat
Was already walking around death's door ..
And back again, just to be sure
The kettle didn't boil over.
A kind of miracle.
At his core the man remained untouched
By a lifetime of the singing clash
Of boilermaker's hammers : Merv was almost deaf.
Violence which once wrenched and crippled
His gateway to the music of the spheres
Now left a querulous inner peace.
"Aark ! Shutup shutup !" squawked his white cockatoo
Unheard, hanging upside down from its perch.
Sometimes the cockatoo was right :
The old bugger was a broken record
Jumping the tracks of a music-hall tune;
But how could you get mad
With the merry eye of an historic monument ?
Why, I asked, all innocence one day
Would a tottering fellow in a trilby hat
Go south each month, a hundred miles
To flouncing Sydney town ..?
What's that to a kid like you ? he winked.
Great striptease in Oxford Street.
Wanna' come ?
We are the people
Stored in toytown boxes,
Permitted trim green beards of lawn
All wrapped by grids of bitumen;
From far judgment, in the high cold clouds above,
How might an angel's gaze find joy
And damnation amongst the little folk
Way below all glory, putting out the rubbish ?
Saluting Edwina, Bessie, Mavis on the sideboard
We sip our tea and guess :
She'd swoop with a rush of certain knowledge
To carry off the crotchety soul of a cockatoo
Hanging upside down, noisily scolding the world,
"Aark ! Watchout watchout !";
But Merve would never know,
Making me crumpets and honey.
© copyright Thorold May 1995 All Rights Reserved
published by The Plain & Fancy Language Company ACN 1116240S Sydney, Australia
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