Friday, 6 December 2019

A Sailor Lost At Sea - a poem

(HMNZS Endeavour with Penguin way back when)
I don’t think there is an emoji yet
for a sailor lost at sea in a storm
The face that masks yours
when you receive an email from
you late father’s partner
who you remain civil with
and offer kindness to along with familial-love
out of sadness
and hope
and the history of thirty-eight years
The email reads:

Hello my Jane
Nice to hear from you
I was about to write
Because I sent
By courier
A parcel a couple of days ago
with Dad’s ashes
I’ve had them ten months already
And thought they would be better with you
Seeing the move is approaching
There is stuff everywhere
We are like a gypsy caravan here
So you can make the decision
When you’d like to
& when you’ve decided what to do with them
The ashes
Let me know.

It’s a feeling of instant nausea
In a part of your anatomy you cannot identify
mixed with a tonne of disbelief
That a cannister of the cremated body parts
of a deceased loved one
A cherished parent
Michael Newcome beloved father of
Belinda and Jane
Is somewhere on an interisland courier van
In transit or awaiting collection
Because Courier Post, part of
NZ Post, does not actually deliver
to my address
Because we fall into the rural delivery zone
So the RD man, let’s call him Wayne, writes in black felt
Excess distance’ and signs it ‘RD
and our packages get left at the pharmacy
where we have a post office box
sometimes for over a week
lost on the floor
among plastic bags of online shopping from
ASOS and
Amazon and
Ezibuy and
The Iconic
This all seems very unsatisfactory
and curious in the days of
Follow us on Instagram
and Bluetooth
and Netflix and Disney+ Channel
TV timeslip and
Drones capturing earth in microscopic detail from heaven
Flying to Mars and electric cars
But it all comes down to time
And petrol I guess
Because my house is 900 metres from the main road
that’s 1800 metres the RD driver has to drive
out of his way
Time is precious
You never get it back
Just like bones.

Only the last paragraph
Didn’t happen
So soz, Courier Post for shaming you
This time
Because I went to clear my
Post box number two-one-two-five, on the Monday
And there was a yellow parcel card!
I was the first to step through the automatic doors
At 8.59 am, 23rd July 2018
It was a white NZ Post parcel box
Size large
(postage spend: $13.70)
The boxes I’ve often sent stuffed with gaudily wrapped gifts
To family
At Christmas
I knew it was him straight away
Is it something nice? the sales assistant asked
You don’t want to know, I said
It’s a bit macabre, I muttered
I'll tell you one day

I sat limply in my car
I was hot
Not hormonal hot
Hot hot
A black VW truck pulled up beside me
The driver was waving
But I couldn’t make out who it was
Through the dark tinted windows
I opened my door
Oh hello! a friend said. You good?
She spied the box on the passenger seat beside me
What’s that? Something nice? she might have asked
That’s my Dad …
My eyes glistened but it wasn't time to cry
Oh that's weird, I think she said

I sobbed on the way home
Great convulsing sobs
They must have been brewing up and up
Waiting for a switch
An electrical storm
A stroke of lightning 
through the heart
My eyelashes were futile windscreen wipers
I should have pulled over
But like any good sailor in a storm at sea
I kept sailing
(Photographer of ships and birds, my Dad. Antarctica)

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