Sunday, 24 October 2010
Magpie 37 The hole he left behind
There is a sense of sadness in this image. A sense of things discarded. Of lives and time forgotten.
He was a regular visitor.
Like clockwork - every sunday he'd arrive at 4pm
apologising for his intrusion, apologising for being early.
A giant lump of a man; a wool bale of a man.
His ruddy complexion and giant hands
in stark contrast to his older brother
I never knew where he lived only
that he travelled by tram every sunday to have a family meal
and came bearing gifts - lollies and chocolates mainly,
except during 'ekka" week when he'd arrive laden with show bags.
Two of everything
Minties, Allens Sweets, Licorice and a Magic Bag to share -
for us his two nephews.
One sunday he wasn't there
Uncle Nat regular as clockwork failed to appear.
It was a minor change to routine. The family meal went ahead -
Uncle Nat was not coming today we were told.
His gravy covered roast beef sat forlorn on its white china plate
congealing before our eyes.
His place was set the following week, his plate of food remained untouched.
Our questions were answered with a lift of the shoulders
"I don't know love. He's probably gone on holidays'.
We missed the chocolates but got used to their absence
as we got used to the empty chair at the sunday roast.
The riverside wool stores became bric a brac markets
then upmarket apartments for the young suited aspirationals
transforming Uncle Nat's wharves to industrial chic.
The ekka became a distant country ritual.
Childhood led to adolescence then independence
and adult life and parenthood
and the moments of panic at the possibility of loss.
snippets of family stories emerged
of Nat's troubles, of Nat's disappearance as a teenager
and the sense of the hole he left behind.
Week by week
month by month
ekka after ekka
Uncle Nat had just slowly
a peaceful place.
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