‘Where’s your guitar, Dylan? Hop to it, boy.’
He straightened and skipped a half step until
sniggers slithered around his legs.
Why do teachers say things they don’t mean?
Two rows from the front, Dylan held the neck
of the borrowed guitar toward Mr D as if it were his own.
I must concentrate today.
Fingers found F chord
and the calming strum
settled his stomach.
At the coda, Dylan’s mind
shifted to the window
the sea glinted
8am Saturday. Scrambled eggs done.
Time for the sea rhythms, water and sun.
Dylan clips his helmet and rides through the breeze
down to the saltiness, down to the sea.
He reaches behind to check it’s still there,
pats the side of his uke and smiles to the air.
Notes meet his heart as his feet touch the sand
peace in his guts, just as he planned.
Pausing to pray, he nods to the edge
looks for the right spot and plonks on a ledge.
A second of still in which
he’s stealing God
It’s so good here with You.
Why can’t I stay?
He slaps the front of the uke with the flat of his hand,
echoing the thwap of sea to rockface.
And plucks at a string, head tilted to compare
tone to roar.
I want to hear You, the rumble of Your voice.
Speak just to me, Father.
You’re always here,
not like my other Dad.
The Interstate Move
Dylan stared at the road
lulled by his head vibrating
on the side window.
Guitar ringtone jolted
his Mum. Always.
She buried phone under the faded
folder of ‘DV Stuff’.
New life in Melalukea. New friends, she said.
But I only have one good friend.
He’s Aspergers, too.
Books hid us
in the demountable library.
Felix. He’s my lucky charm
and we are getting further away
from him every minute.
‘Play me a tune, honey. C’mon
it’ll be OK.’
Dylan scooped the ukelele from his lap.
Familiar, like cuddling the cat.
He leaned to see placement
of second and fourth fingers
on reliable strings.
His fingers kept marching
as he remembered
in the dented Hilux
Dad called the truck.
He never did ask
why she didn’t come and get him.
It was his turn with Dad.
The solicitor said he had to go.
Dylan used to stare out the window
and finger his booster seat sash
til the ‘Club House Bar’
neon yawned with him.
Will Daddy find us?
Blessing of the Pets
Dylan snuggles his ukulele
softly kicking the back of the next pew
as his mother shares the first reading.
A whippet slips
her owner’s grasp,
licks his hand.
Tucking the uke inside his blue jacket
Dylan pats the tiny head.
The minister calls for beloved friends
places a hand on fur and feather in turn.
Her lips whisper halos.
Dylan presents the wooden instrument
Rev Bryony turns and looks out over the lake
as if she were called.
She nods and collects the anointing oil
forming the sign of the cross
on the boy’s freckled forehead
then chipped orange paint.
‘In the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit
I anoint you, Dylan, and your instrument
May you play your life for God
for He wants to hear you play’
Bike tossed to sand
like a beach towel
as he seeks the sea.
I know I can play it
Water approaches his ankles
like a loving cat
and draws out minor chords.
Dylan’s breathing slows
Your will be done on earth
as it is in Heaven
and their white foam
on the sea coaxes him to play on
Dylan takes another step
and the blue parts
like a glassy aisle to Heaven
before embracing him.
If his mother were here
she would have heard the
change in tone
the resonance of his sea-strum
that echoed even in the shells
as if the sun were dawning
on this beach alone.
‘Stay a while with me, Dylan.’
He hears His voice plaited
around the strings
and smiles, taking another step
into the hug of the ocean.
Play the sea.
His mother would have
She would have been the only thing to stop
Dylan from soothing
himself up to his neck
ginger tufts of hair like anemone arms