Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Chapter 05: Spinning Wheels

I didn't have a good night. I wasn't sure what had prompted it, sometimes it doesn't need to be anything in particular, but it had been a night of nightmares. Waking up without having someone there to hold me was one of the major reasons that I was really considering going through with this whole thing with Daise, and the sexual aspect was just a polite screen that I had been using to justify it to myself. I suspect that Bev knew this, and that was why she had pushed me so hard.

She had grown up seeing me get into uniform every now and then, and she had loved the idea that her Dad was also a soldier. The two or three months that I spent every year in Namibia and Angola when she was small were very hard on her as a small child. Mandy, my older daughter, had always been more of her mother's child and it didn't seem to have bothered her as much.

As Beverley grew older, she had come to realise and understand, sometimes even better than my wife at times, that I walked constantly with ghosts. When she was about fifteen, I discovered her sitting on a bench in the garden, crying. When I asked her what was bothering her, she simply handed me a little exercise book, open to a page that she pointed at. I recognised it immediately as the book that I had used to write poetry in, and I took a look to see which poem it was that had made her upset. When I saw it, I understood.

The Damage is Done

A tear rolls
out of the staring eye.
Glides down
the skin,
weaving in and out
of the individual hairs
on his brown chin.
It breaks a trail of dust
and eases
to the ground.

The sticky blood
screams its frustration
and I marvel that
it’s just as red as mine.

His feet bump,
as I drag him
across the
hot, white
vampire sand,
which sucks deliriously
at the thick red meal.
Buzzing black scavenger flies
join the banquet.

There’s no room in their
tiny hearts
for hatred,
or regret.

I can only stare,
perversely fascinated
by the sight of grey brains
liberally distributed
for the industrious ants
to carry away.

I remember that I held her in my arms and comforted her, and after that we had a number of long discussions about the nature of war and the effect it has on people. I couldn't remember my wife having any more reaction to my poetry than to say “That's nice dear.” and hand it back.

I crawled out of bed at about ten and grabbed some WheatBix cereal, then thought that I really needed to find something to do to. When I walked out onto the veranda with my cup of coffee, I decided that the grass was long enough to need some attention. This was one thing that my gardener knew he had to leave alone as I enjoyed doing it.

I went and hauled my ride-on mower out of the garage, and after checking there was enough petrol in it, I was soon driving up and down in long lines cutting the lawn. As I drove I could see that the groom, Thembi, had moved the horses into the next paddock as they had grazed the one right by the house down to a couple of centimetres, so that was fine, although I made a mental note to remind him he needed to clear up their droppings to help prevent a plague of flies.

I pottered around the rest of the day, caught up on my reading and some outstanding correspondence and basically spun my wheels waiting for the time to come around when I could chat to Daise again.

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