Almanac Poetry: ‘The Off Season’ – Tommy Mallet

 

The Off Season

 

It’s hot,
fern trunks heavy, scratchy,
blackberries 12ft high,
gullies steep.
Each load carried out,
over shoulders, under arms,
has me hunched over,
sucking in air.
Ten times, 30, 40,
it’s a long day.

 

Home by five,
the wife drops our kid
at the farm’s gate junction,
so I can get straight to work
in the rainforest gullies,
a part of a shit rent deal,
and still have time
with her.

 

I bang up a viewing platform from
fallen satin box tree –
heavy-yet-perfect, oil-drenched wood.
The thing will last decades longer
than any treated pine.
Then back fill with good, clay-based dirt,
clearing the track
from a landslip,
50 metres further down.

 

Two birds.

 

Three, as our kid has a ball,
doing nothing and everything,
turning the fallen timber sign I’ve
constructed,
into a magic sushi bar.

 

“Two banana sushi!” I call,
in my best gorilla voice,
pushing another barrow
of slip up past her.

 

“Coo-ee!” and stupid animal noises,
when she’s out of sight.

 

Wanting to finish the platform tonight,
I give it full sweat.

 

 

A text comes through
just past 7; “Dinner’s ready.
How far?”

 

“On way to ute,” I reply lies,
scrambling one more load,

 

fascinated how life’s been reduced to
bullshitting
to get more done.

 

Sometimes I feel trapped,
miss the simplicity of dawn
to dusk,
in ways I can’t explain.

 

 

We have a race out,
to make it quick, yet still fun.
I let her win,
of course.

 

These victories, as, soon enough,
one day,
I’ll have no say.

 

 

“Poo bottom…”
I give gorilla mopes,
one last time,
as we belt over the paddock,
through its saddles,
towards the gravel.

 

I push the kid
through the door first.
“Rapido, rapido…!”

 

 

The wife’s happy, not pissed off,
which is heaven.

 

After dinner, I still have two pieces
to write for an online thing,
but the kid is everything,
everything!
Each bedtime story
full volume, full vaudeville,
takes its time.

 

Several muscles cramp,
off and on,
the wife wants to pamper me,
suggests I have a shower,
but there’s no time.

 

It feels fine, if not right,
to walk around
drenched clothes off,
in shorts, work muscle and beer gut.

 

 

Bush work needs fuel,
besides,
the Cubans have it right;
a belly is a possession of a
well fed man.

 

The pieces get written,
in the sweetest silence,
to the rhythm of tapping keys.

 

Each bourbon can a lifebuoy,
slowing time down,
making it small.

 

When done, one of the pieces gets
illustrated –
simple, black lines.

 

Its proper dark,
past 10, or 11,
when I step outside, letting mozzies feast,
just to feel this still,
hear it, see it,
take in a moonless, blood temperature night,
use its air to fight off bastard sleep,
resist cursed defeat of bed,
then return to the keyboard to

 

write.

 

Until 1or 2,
and be saved.

 

Some time between then and dawn,
the wife
leaves our kid’s room, where she
falls asleep most nights,
snuggling into every inch of my
personal space.

 

I wake enough to feel her skin, its warmth,
hear her breath fall,
to know things,
even if I’m not sure what.

 

We always leave the blind up,
so the night can sleep
with us,
which is does mostly,

 

while outside,
a powerful owl calls.

 

 

 

More from Tommy Mallet can be read Here.

 

 

 

 

More poetry from Almanac Poetry can be read HERE

 

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Comments

  1. Malby Dangles says

    Thanks for your hard work, Tommy. This is a great piece

  2. “We always leave the blind up,
    So the night can sleep with us”

    Glorious

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