They stitched their lives into my days,
Blues Point fishermen, with a smoke
stuck to their bottom lips, bodies bent
forward, inspecting a haul-net’s wing
draped from a clothes line. Their hands
darting through mesh, holding bone
net needles, maybe a special half-needle
carved from tortoise shell. Their fingers,
browned by clusters of freckles
and tobacco tar, slippery with speed—
they wove everything they knew
into the mesh, along with the love they had,
or had lost, or maybe not needed.
During my school holidays I watched them
and came to love this craft
of mending, in our backyard by the harbour,
surrounded by copper tubs brimming
with tanning soup brewed from
bloodwood and wild-apple bark.
These men could cut the heart clean
from a fish with a swipe of a fillet knife
and fill buckets with gut flecked
with the iridescent backs of flies
as it fermented into liquid fertilizer.
I’d water my father’s beds of vegetables,
rows of silverbeet, a fence of butterbeans.
In the last of the sun, I’d watch
our peacock spread its fan;
the hose sprayed water from a water tank, house high
fed by gravity.
Copyright © 2015 Robert Adamson
Used with the permission of Flood Editions.