Winter Meeting

I like it best on winter rally-days.
Before the sun has sucked the fog up, there’s
a tearing sound along the sleeping street,
brakes shriek, a tail-pipe bubbles, then a horn
that gets dogs going. Nanna Wears
her what-will-happen-next expression and
I squeeze between the dog and hamper – keep
my eye on things until the coffee stop.
No-one packs a hamper like my Nan.

Gravel rattles under mud-guards

Dogs start again, scarves whip, wind fills my ears.
Mists lift, I see my face in paint and now
brass flashes back a hundred tiny suns.
Exhaust pipes crackle through the morning. Here
the road unrolls, gears grate, the day’s begun.
Da asks if I can hear the engine purr.
Nan says “that’s nice, we need a thirsty tiger”
then misses stitches in the gravel corners.
It isn’t easy – knitting on a curve.

Sunlight strikes on vintage headlights

We’re waved through gates, doors slam, flags flick and fall.
Table legs unfold, dogs circle, wag, make friends.
Wicker lids creak open, coffee steams, plates wait
on running-boards. A gas-jet hisses then
smoke tastes like steak. Seats smell of leather, wind
that salads mix in drifts across the day.
Then men with caps and badges wander by
stop, hang around our hamper, borrow things,
tell Da he should have gone to lighter green.
Nan knits and says she’s sorry for their wives.

Shadows grow, roads roll again

Side-curtains shudder, dash-lamps glow, we drive
the last few miles in night. We reach the spur
and see verandah lights. I race inside
to tell Mum we’ve arrived, she says she heard.
I tell her, when I’m old – as old as Da
l’ll have a grandson too, restore a car
with two spare wheels and paint it racing green,
have friends like his who Nan calls hairless lairs,
and train my dog to lean against the wind.
She shakes her head and says it’s in the genes.

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