© Arthur Green

Winner, 2009 ‘Walla Walla Wagon Wheel’ Albury NSW.

I can still recall the moment I first held her in my arms –
tiny nose and long eyelashes – wobbly knees and sweaty palms.
Scrunched-up face against a world of noisy sound and fluro glare
made it clear that she was wishing she was anywhere but there.
As her wails of anger, fear and indignation all combined,
I knew then that our two hearts were irretrievably entwined.

She’d no knowledge then this stranger would be at her beck and call,
and would always place her needs above his own and best of all,
who would always find the time to say a silent, heartfelt prayer
that this bundle of affection, with such boundless love to share
would, in coping with adversity, take setbacks in her stride,
and awaken his, `til then unknown, paternalistic pride.

Then followed two male siblings who were somewhat disinclined
to participate in shopping trips and so were left behind
when Mum and older sister shopped for shoes and clothes and such,
for boys have never been too keen on shopping trips that much.
Instead they’d rather do boy-things that showed their macho side,
which female siblings always claim they simply can’t abide.

Oh, how I miss those precious days of childhood now they’re gone,
when teary little faces, looking sad and woebegone,
would bring their scraped and bleeding parts so tearfully displayed,
or treats that they’d been promised were regrettably delayed,
or sometimes, stalled in traffic jams (the times they’d always pick),
you’d hear some voice behind proclaiming, “Daddy, I feel sick!”

But compensating these were times when laughter ruled the day –
when small one’s main ambitions were to sing and dance and play
her games of make-believe involving me in all her fun,
with “Catch me, Daddy, catch me. See how quickly I can run.”
Which far too soon were followed by those dreaded teenage years,
with roller-coaster ups and downs and unexpected tears.

Then schooling done, she left for places far from those she’d known,
restricting two-way contact to e-mail or telephone.
And as her siblings followed, all too soon the nest was bare.
From five to two, as silence grew, we wished them all still there.
Until, in time, they all came back, concerned how old we’d grown,
surmising as one tends to do, how fast the years had flown.

And though it’s clear our Gemini enjoys from Capricorn,
that special type of love all mothers have for their first-born,
which often, to no one’s surprise, transforms them into friends,
I think this Virgo Dad should rate a word before this ends,
for though close friends may come and go, (and some forsake you never),
a father’s love is like a bond – for always and forever.

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