On Being the Middle Generation
After the clamour of choosing a captain
the Cobbers – barely taller than the plastic yellow stumps –
fan out in cartwheels or stare at clouds
like distant white shorts fielding the soggy sky
while the Warriors loll or abscond with their mates
to the dank, graffiti’d toilets.
Cockatoos apostrophise the oval’s timber boundaries,
heavy-hoofed Dads look up (“Oh, shot! Run, Alex!”)
from their murmured discussion of merits and means.
I’m thinking of my father’s childhood, of how we need
a taxonomy, a way of mapping worlds
as if they were cousins, consanguineous,
by human alchemy intertwined
proliferating branches of acceptance and release
from exile and diaspora’s inheritance.
First world: my father reading Jules Verne for his friends
in the icy ghetto; second world, once removed
from our kids:
unable, for fear of the racket,
to put down a zinc bucket he has carried to the attic
while the Gestapo questions people in the apartment below,
my grandfather watches a stray dog in the street outside.
That might be a way of mapping how I have come to this field,
its big face beaming upward into the Saturday drizzle
making its pitch to the sky, like a kid,
momentarily pleased with himself
for having scored a few runs.
Newcastle Poetry Prize anthology 2008