My Uncle Mick smoked too much –
until the doctors took out a lung.
Uncle Mick drank too much –
right to the day he died.
Mick tried dope too, in ‘Nam.
And Mick whored.
It’s still not spoken of;
the day old Mick let rip
around the family’s dinner table,
with the then unfamiliar fable
of his inner city brothel-hopping as a lad.
Auntie June near choked on her Christmas pudd’ –
and we never had coins in our pudd’ at Christmas time.
Uncle Mick lived.
Not well, not pretty, but fuck he lived.
Uncle Mick worked hard,
but he played harder – the six country coppers
stationed in town were testament to that.
Auntie June moved back to the family farm
during the long, hot summer of ’83,
giving up uni two-thirds through her master’s degree.
Mick turned up that winter with a broken nose,
and under his arm, a eucalyptus tree.
Every time Mick played up
– “danced with the devil” – as he put it,
he’d bring home a tree to June
as a way to make it up to her.
Old Mick didn’t believe in flowers – “they just die” –
no, Mick gave trees… and shrubs… and bushes… and
saplings – both deciduous and evergreens.
And so my Auntie June planted a garden,
which grew into a forest of lost dreams.
– February 23, 2000