Friday, 9 April 2021

What Will We Do With A Drunken Sailor


(Dude stepping onto vessel - my dad)

My dad was in the Royal New Zealand Navy

When he was home from sea

Which did not feel like often

he’d go out on Friday nights

At the open front door of 62 Beresford Street

Our mustard coloured, weatherboarded

royal blue-roofed mansion

I’d grab his hand, Dad, Dad where are you going?

Floating down the river in a matchbox, he’d chuckle

My then four-year-old self would worry for his

Six-foot man body teetering in a teeny boat

His bent knees at ear level

His bottom snug

Just how long could that cardboard craft contain him

Bobbing under the barnacled Devonport wharf

My mum would tuck my pink-nightied self into bed

To search for sleep under the long grey curtains

That sometimes turned into a herd of elephants

Stampeding at night


My endless worries into untold proportions

It wasn’t until I was grown up that I worked out

what I already knew

He was going to the officer’s mess at the naval base

To drink whiskey and smoke Rothmans

And tell tall stories with his shipmates

Years later when I told him of my childhood view

My wet, papery woes of his impending demise

His potential drowning

He just laughed

And floated on down that river in his matchbox

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