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An extempore tragedy

         Grandmother’s arthritic
fingers tear the moquette on her armchair.
Framed by fading light the holland blind holds
         condensate from potatoes
eroded by the water they boil in. Mouse-turd
caulks the floorboards she creaks over
         to the stove to remove
the dinner I’d sooner miss. Be a good boy
and eat up. You do love me, don’t you?
         So I swallow my words.

         Now we have inherited
the haunting house…it takes possession.
The gaudy wallpaper’s arabesques suggest
         an Edwardian audience
at home with melodrama. From her portrait
Grandmother directs an extempore tragedy
         we move to stop
yet enact as our shadows close together—
confidants or combatants? We both hope
         the next scene is final.

18–19.9.1985, Waironga Road, North Taieri – 3.10.1986, Normanby, Dunedin


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