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April 2016, vol 12 no 1

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Marietta McGregor

Everything in Perspective

My 65-year-old father is slowly going mad and coughing himself to death in the upstairs bedroom of our rented tenement. His daily cocktail of pills, oxygen for his emphysema, and unfiltered Camels is pushing him to the brink. My mother manages as best she can, but even her maternal tiger protection fails in the face of demands he makes and I cannot fulfill. One day he orders me to climb out on the second floor roof to kill the pigeons whose soft cooing is eating into his brain. I'm in my third year of a science degree but I can't study here.

in the silence      stretched membranes       shattering

I ask my mother if can I move out of home. This feels like betrayal. I'm an only child and she will be left on her own to manage him, sick as he is. She stays with him out of love. She lets me go out of love. Somehow she scrapes up the few dollars needed to rent a single room near the university. A returned serviceman's repatriation scholarship pays for books and tuition.

unknown birdsong       in the garden       failing light

My new home is a bed-sitter carved out of a warren of rooms in a thirties brick pile near the river. One hot-plate, monastically-narrow single bed, Formica table, hardwood chair, shared bathroom and creepy voyeur landlord. The best feature is a three-dimensional wallpaper frieze of an Italian pleasure garden, resplendent across the windowless back wall. Preparing to sleep, I slip into the deep perspective of its belvedere, strolling under cypresses beside a formal pool flanked with coloured columns off to infinity. Here safe in the old world I will cradle a lover for the first time.

last post       the Tobruk Rats’ club       disbanded