We are all here, sitting on the pavement
drinking beer. That kid, who is almost
a relation, sucking on her stick of Brighton rock.
Gull cries, and a busker singing ‘red, red wine’
as we pass the postcard along the line.
Oldest brother writes ‘I have just come along
for the ride’. Youngest brother scrawls ‘Hi mum,
a word from your son who never writes’.
I sit between them linking arms for the snap.
She’ll want a print. After years, and for once
in the same country, how having the same mother
can seem like a new fact – brothers,
looking like you just come down
from the high country, ready to put your hands
to anything: bouncing on the end of a bungy,
building a house. But it’s true, she taught us
all how to swim out in the sea,
we pick-up the story just beyond the break-line.
Family, family, will I always think for each of you
that there is something important
that I haven’t said. Do you think like this?
As we fall in and out of agreement, and bits
and pieces float through the day that seem to come
from miles away. Except the sky here is muddy,
the beach stony, and Hove’s bathing chalets look
like outhouses built outback of an Opihi bach*.
Only flickers of home then, below the jazzy roofline
on the Esplanade when Palace Pier lights come on
making us all hungry. And on the motorway back
to London when the car goes ropy, and we know
if we stop the whole thing will likely die -
it’s as if this is where the family’s always been as we sing,
sing like hell for all the lights to turn green.
* Kiwi slang: hut by the sea, a river or lake
From Ambit 162, 2000.