THE RATTLE OF THE KNOB
© Allan Goode
Winner 2012, ‘Bronze Spur Award’, Drover’s Camp Festival, Camooweal, Queensland.
The door was old and weathered in a panelled brownish wood,
which held the dented doorknob that still did the job it should.
It rattled some, but as before it still undid the lock,
the key to which was found within the hollowed yellow rock.
I knew that’s where she kept it though she reckoned no-one did
and who was I to call her wrong, as I was just a kid.
At least back then her heart was strong though kept much to herself.
I placed the key where it belonged upon the mantle shelf.
I opened up the heavy drapes and let the light flood in
to highlight all the floating dust residing there within.
There riding on the floating dust, the memories abound,
of sights and smells from years long gone, now left without a sound.
The well worn couch where she would sit to wait for his return
while calmly telling me of all the things I’d need to learn.
I cherished all my time with her but then it didn’t show
though in my heart I’d like to think that in herself, she’d know.
As it was nearing on the time that he’d walk in the door,
she’d go and start on dinner just like all those times before.
So when the time would come at last, the rattle of the knob
would herald his appearance for the smells had done their job.
He said that he could smell her cooking many miles away
and hers could outdo any chef on any given day,
and that was when you’d see her smile which set the place alight
with warmth and glowing energy to light the darkest night.
As she stood at the stove he’d put his burly arms around
and whisper things into her ear while she just stood her ground.
At that her smile would broaden and she’d whack him with the spoon
with squeals of “Go and wash yourself you silly great baboon!”
On one of those occasions as she shook her pretty head,
he called out something to her so she turned at what he said
and that was when he took the shot, that stands with pride of place
upon the sturdy mantle of her beaming, smiling face.
So there it sits, just like before, I take it in my hand,
although I must admit back then I didn’t understand.
He always loved that photograph, so that was where it stood.
He said it added softness to the roughly polished wood.
She said she didn’t like it ‘cause he wasn’t in it too
but he just said, “That’s fine because I’d rather look at you.”
I think she let it stay, though not apparent then to me
for who it was that took the snap that no-one else could see.
Though looking at it now I notice something I’d forgot,
a shadowed face behind her dress was also in the shot.
The memories came flooding back of all those years before,
of how I used to hide there at the rattle of the door.
As he’d come up behind her then, he’d give a little wink
and I would often join him as he’d wash up in the sink.
So much had been forgotten and was hidden in the past
but even then I think I knew a love like theirs would last.
The rattle of the doorknob didn’t come one fateful night.
A soft yet forceful knocking stopped her stirring with a fright.
The local parish pastor with a constable in tow
was trying hard to tell her things she didn’t want to know.
An unexpected heart attack that took him from us all,
for none can guess or choose the times when angels come to call.
Her life and love were torn away, replaced with pain and grief;
her heart with no more need to beat just screaming for relief.
She gave up living for herself, her heart refused to mend,
too soon to lose her life-long love, their story had to end.
I felt the teardrop fall upon the picture, on her face,
which saw it come to life emitting happiness and grace.
She seemed astute and regal as she stood and cooked the meal,
with awe inspiring beauty and a presence you could feel.
I looked back at the kitchen and the stove where she would stand
and marvel at the power of this picture in my hand.
I take that one momento just before I must depart
and place it in my jacket in the pocket near my heart.
I close the weathered panelled door while stifling a sob
then say my last farewell with one more rattle of the knob.