Issue TwelveIssue Twelve PoetryPoetry

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by Nathanael O’Reilly


I split wood on the back verandah

while woodsmoke wafted from the chimney,

watched Aussie Rules on Sunday afternoons,

wore duffel coats, scarves, beanies, and gloves,

ate hot chips, pasties, and potato cakes

with soy sauce, wore two pairs of socks inside

the draughty weatherboard house, warmed the foot

of the bed with a hot water bottle,

slid into tightly tucked flannel sheets

under woollen blankets. I ate porridge

with brown sugar for breakfast, sipped port beside

the fireplace with my father while Carole

King, Enya, and Van Morrison albums

played on the stereo, my mother

knitted in her favourite armchair.

I ate vegetable soup and freshly baked

homemade bread slathered with melting butter

and honey, rode my bike to school through frost-

covered neighbourhoods, breath rising through fog,

built cubbies beneath the old loading ramp

beside the railway tracks, hunted rabbits

in the paddock behind the abandoned

abattoir. I played kick-to-kick at recess

on the school oval, rubbed blue hands between

marks and kicks, sipped steaming tomato soup

from a thermos, skateboarded through town

in twilight before dinner, under skies

streaked pink and blue. I woke in darkness,

left for school before sunrise, wore woollen

socks and jumpers with corduroy jeans,

inhaled the smell of wet wool from girls

wearing damp jumpers, tartan skirts and black

stockings. I savoured Mum’s shepherd’s pie

and chocolate pudding on my birthday,

slept in sleeping bags on the floor in front

of the fire, huddled around backyard

bonfires with friends, passed bottles of bourbon

and port, toasted marshmallows, danced in pubs

and nightclubs until dawn, revelling

in the sweaty fug of friendship. I sauntered

down glistening city streets through yellow

streetlight fog and misty rain, arm in arm

with friends who accepted me without

reservations, hands buried deep in coat

pockets, drizzle beading on beanies,

scarves and faces in winter darkness.