We could have been in Fremantle,
sitting on that Nelson pavement,
alfresco at 'Chez Eelco'.
But there the summer light was gentler green
and a freshness to the air
required no daily doctor to relieve
those shirking a red desert heat.
Even on the narrow street
'the shining bright land' drew my eye
to those mountains attracting clouds
like moths to lamplight.
Your parents sat straight-backed
with strained faces as they accepted
their grandchildren's gifts of 'goodbye'.
In turn, you mother gave them a
favourite video - 'Alice in Wonderland'.
Reassurances that we'd be back
next year were caught in
a single glance glimpsed
through the solid air
of her remaining time -
gone before the next Christmas cheer.
Another generation - another valediction.
Your father said nothing.
She said 'next year dear',
sighed and lit another cigarette,
filtering white smoke
through darkened obstructed lungs
to drift on windless movement
like cloud against the cafe pane.
Later, she helped us pack,
never quite able to fit everything in -
her green eyes outward looking
saw your father garden into a twilight
of wan Tasman watercolours
fading on their wonderland -
as our children chased cabbage moths
like white rabbits through a golden afternoon.