No longer 3

You and me,

we’re no longer three,

am I cracked and fading, a sepia-coloured memory?

oceans divide us,

and the years…

but your mettle

burns vivid as the desert ochre,

and your voice

beats ancient through my heart


The smell of sawdust

takes me to a time

you’d send me to pick leaves for the silkworms

after your tools turned on you

(usually the ratchet screwdriver)

my young ears safe at the mulberry tree,

brother’s mosquito gang

wheelieing up the laneway

for a smoke and 50cc tune-up

with their favourite neighbourhood oldie,

night-scented gardenia

mixed with varnish,

crickets and

Erroll Garner

illuminating the nightwaves

The Brother

Ancient Bijin dolls
smile in polite approval
as she paints in the dim light of a Chinese lantern –
a little piece of the Orient in African suburbia.

At 3pm she serves her handmade guests tea,
positioning them in their miniature chairs
so they can admire her handiwork.

Teddy loves its fiery breath,
Polly nods uncontrollably in agreement,
her eyes blinded by the Brother a long time ago,
but Humpty Dumpty is scared of its horns.

At 6pm, on the way back from her bath,
the Brother pounces,
twisting her arm behind her back,
“I have srayed the dragon,” he menaces. Tell on pain of tickring death!”

In her room,
she finds her exhibition guests in contorted poses,
the graffiti spray still wet
across her masterpiece:

On pain of death or not, this time she will tell.