I sat as a boy at the table,
Silent and neat
My plate was clean
Nothing to do but eat
Are seen and not heard
I wasn’t allowed to say a word.
(This is the sixties,
You too were just seen
So off your high horse
You know what I mean.)
But it wasn’t a burden
A chore to be borne.
It was just as things were then.
Like a hat to be worn.
I tried to gain my Mum’s attention
In the hope she would know
My face’s contortion that show’d
‘Please let me go.
I’ve got books to read
Rollers to skate
Animals to feed
I can’t stay awake
So please, I just need …
To go, can’t you see?’
She finally caught
The look on my face
And turned to him
For him to say grace.
He did as was bid
Not knowing the words
Their meaning I mean,
It was just a chant
An act to be seen
By an invisible god
That no-one believed
Just a Sunday thing.
I was so relieved.
I wrote many stories
Without any ends
Since ends needed thought
A point to be made
I had ideas, no joins, just dots
I had no points, just starts
I knew she was fucking the delivery man
Who came in a truck, The Faulding Van
It opened up like a shop with steps
There it was by the gate, and yet
No one was there
No one around
Not even a Mum or man to be found
Where were they fucking, where did they go?
The feed shed? Peppertree?, I’d like to know.
But once in my room, to change as I must
I saw the van in a cloud of dust
And there in the kitchen, stood Mum
Tying her apron,
A new job to get done.
So all was right, as right as rain
Until she needed some lovin’ again.
The boys, them too, the brothers I gained
When Mum hitch’d a farmer
Who grew nothing but grain,
And sheep to be traded
Graded and sold
One killed every month
But one that was old.
Four legs it had, like Sundays in a month
As if god ordained
That if sheep had four
That’s what roasts were for my Mum explained
But still not able
To talk at the table
Until I was older, an adult no less
But then could I secretly still wear a dress?
Oh, pets and books and ducks and chooks
Reading and writing and watching TV
Black and white it seemed to me
To tell me what I dreamed to know
How to be older, and how to grow
To be someone taller, smarter, a good looker
A house that was modern.
False teeth, pressure cooker
Wasn’t enough to satisfy me
I wanted a life, a life more than this
But all I had was the back of my hand
To practice a kiss.