From Crystal Set To Internet - Poem by Andrew Burke
for my brother Michael
Today, our kitchen radio crackles
and I remember your crystal set,
its antenna running around
jarrah fences, under the grapevine's
twisty tendrils, behind the flapping
banana leaves ...
in that backyard, by the circular
barbecue of coloured stones,
your yacht collected rain where
weeping willow leaves and leeches
created their own environment.
We hadn't heard the word then. We
hadn't heard the Poms were exploding bombs
at Maralinga, we only heard Bob Menzies
speaking more British than Royalty:
reds under beds, the yellow peril.
Memory is like
an old marbles bag found in an attic:
Long Point, Mr Rushton's Perfume Factory,
the running boards of Dad's Pilot V8,
Mum's Agatha Austin, your first Vespa ...
Now the information superhighway Internet
has replaced your crackling crystal set,
and we are the fathers who
complain of power and phone bills.
We have come through an age,
and await our medals, looking to
the daily mail or the next phone-call
to praise us, but hear nothing. So
I praise us as brothers, as
sons, as fathers, I
praise the daily male in us that
we have come through these
harrowing decades of change
with our humour and wonder
Buddha said 'All things must pass':
we are still in the passageway, laughing.
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