Tue | Jul 7, 2020

Meeting Ground – celebrating fathers

Published:Sunday | June 14, 2020 | 12:00 AM

For the 2020 Father’s Day edition of Meeting Ground, we present poets from New Zealand and Jamaica sharing poems on fatherhood.

We celebrate fathers in their many manifestations. Happy reading from the curators, Ann-Margaret (Jamaica) and Shane (New Zealand).

 

 

Lost Dragon

 

No old photo in the china cabinet

No cracked porcelain teapot.

 

No heirloom chopsticks to keep in the drawer.

From Great grand-pappy

Zēngzǔfù 曾祖父.

 

Freckled mulatto Beatrice

Silky plait down her back

Basket on head

Chanting macka back and sprat.

 

A confident stride

A sensuous sway

Ignites his attention

In a familiar way.

 

Great grand-mammy

Alien to his world

Of Great Walls

Giant Pandas

Yellow Mountains

Forbidden Cities

 

Zhao Yun, ‘Charley’

The Indentured Labourer

Didn’t ‘save sugar’

But turned Shopkeeper.

 

Wholesale and retail

Dry goods on credit

Mah Jong evenings

Barry Street, Kingston.

 

The stars aligned

For an unlikely encounter.

A short-lived romance,

Like a supernova.

 

A yellow-skinned baby

Without daddy’s name.

Never counting in Hakka

Yi-Ni-San, 1-2-3.

 

Never donned a Changshan

For a special occasion.

 

No tales from the village

Tián Xīn Wéi.

 

No flipping through the Jiapu,

To take a look

At the ancient ancestral book.

 

No family reunion to keep in touch.

Cousin strangers, unknown to us.

 

No dancing with Dragons to start the New Year.

 

An elusive bloodline is what we share.

 

Angella Prendergast (Jamaica)

 

 

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Warsaw Concerto

 

For my father

you said

it was the world’s most difficult song

to play

 

and I think of you

a boy battling on

fields of cracked ivory

fingers barely stretching to cover the octave,

galloping chords,

the staccato beat

of ten thousand notes

lined up for war

 

Every day

you sat in that room

with paint the colour of sky outside.

 

Every day

you disciplined your soft hands

forced them to bend to the piano’s wires,

emptied your life

of prepubescent dreams

looked for keys.

 

You heard your father tell you

again and again

it was his favourite song

but only played perfect

 

the chords crashing down

again and again

in silent arpeggios around you

 

and the sky outside greyed

as you started over

piano/pianissimo/forte/fortissimo

the notes colluding/colliding/collapsing

and fighting

again and again

until one day you

 

stopped

and listened

 

and you heard the sound of your father

smiling in his sleep.

 

And now you sit in this room

with paint the colour of sky outside

your hands wrinkled over mine

as you tell me

daughter,

take your time,

it’s the world’s most difficult song to play.

 

Rene Liang ( New Zealand)

 

-------

 

Prodigy of the Man

 

My father arrived me on earth as assumed—with his trademark

doggerel strut. Into my mother’s arms he passed me with that

same honeysuckle sweater and $5 haircut. He was there for

my first bike ride and first football game; my first tooth missing

and first nickname. He gave me my first train set when I was three

and introduced me to the sky. He brought me to the birds and

showed how they fly. My father, to be honest, has always had

the same type of life about him. Contagious, the same joke to end

a question; same question to mark a curiosity. Do you think

that’s a wise thing to do? is still his catchphrase. His advice is still

the one I take above anyone else’s. As time will pass, friends will

go and enemies had, I’ll always thank my dad

for showing me such a wild existence; for ‘taking it on the chin’.

My father has and will guide me to an infinite future,

an unlimited junction.

 

Jamie Trower ( New Zealand)