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Sport 35: Winter 2007

Visiting my Parents' Houses

Visiting my Parents' Houses

'and the whole thing wavers as though we'd dreamed it
… and it topples all at once.'

Nothing was as I remembered—until
the walnut tree. Hung with slim pods
whose adult kernels my mother made

into jars of black-brown pickles,
it swept over the lower garden
offering a pool of shade.

The two-storey brick house
looked hot and small,
surrounded by grown-up shrubs.

In a flash, I was in my upstairs bedroom
with my little record player,
then in the yellow kitchen

where one lunchtime, by the bench,
my mother cried out and fell
and although it's hard for me now

to understand, after the ambulance came
and the world slipped sideways,
I went back to work.

page 103

In a performance of La Traviata
the heroine, sitting at her desk,
picked up a white feather

to write a farewell letter.
The tall quill with its fine vanes
expressed every sadness—

it was both a tool for writing
her transactions and a feather
floating through the air.

I'd like that quill to write about
the time it was too hot to walk
so I sat with my father and drank

cold bitter beer. Moisture
from the glass wet my palms.
We watched the TV news,

sometimes silent, sometimes talking.
The chrome on his new wheelchair shone
and the living room's fine wool carpet

stretched above the concrete and earth garage
where space vacated by the ruby Toyota
slowly filled with other goods.

One day this room will waver
as memories do and the house will signal
that every trace of us is gone.