'Self-portrait at Sixty', a new poem by Tony Lintermans

What am I? A crushed hominid.
A can of couscous, seeding.
A shudder of my former self, a
self-defrosting fridge. Good
with dogs, at looking after dogs,
at looking dog-like.
Mosquito slapper, hopeless unwrapper
of shrink-wrapped cheese.

What am I here for? To look after
my fading father, to bury and speak
when the time comes for scatter and ash.
To be a glorious father, hah.
To bother and fret like waves at a beach.
To be pointless, mute, obtusely loving.

Where do I live? In squalor, dreaming
of valour. In the dingo’s tent
taking what moves. In polar silence
where voices of friends locate me.
In a log cabin with gaps in the walls,
books on the shelves, a ravenous fire
framed and fed, the sea a snore away.

What do I miss? Everything.
A mother’s voice cannot be recalled.
The tall man will never be small again.
The beautiful moments mimicking amber.

When am I happy? In the sea, always,
in the sea on a wave in the sea.
When the backhand winner bludgeons doubt.
When doors are open and weather walks in –
cumulus drama of women, cirrus blokes
streaking the high days with laughter.

Where am I going? Home.
The longed-for soup.
The hand-built fire.
To the garden, often.

Tony Lintermans

Tony Lintermans

Tony Lintermans is a renowned Australian poet, whose books of poetry include The Shed Manifesto (Scribe, 1989), Inside the Circle (Agnus & Robertson, 1979), and Town Tales (Oxford University Press, 1981).

Published in March 2011 no. 329