Backyard Spirits

Martin Christmas

I’m sitting in the backyard 
in the shade of the tall flowering cactus
planted by mum and dad in the early 60s.
Soursobs and bees everywhere.

I see family spirits everywhere.
My sister lying in the sun on a beach towel.
Dad pottering around in the corrugated iron
shed I paid for with my first 2 pays. 
Mum and dad always struggled financially.

The oleander trees, white and red,
planted by mum to remind her of Townsville.
Mum loved gardening with a
passion, as did dad, ‘the’ shed.

Back to now.
I see the grass is meadow thick.
Time to mow.
A pigeon flies away
from the towering itchy scratchy tree.

The 1922 Vauxhall Tourer
dad bought cheaply to do up.
Never did. 
He sold it for a hundred pounds. 
The Hills Hoist, loaded with sheets and undies. 
Broken years ago, but still in service.

The Norfolk Pine, huge, too near the side fence.
I got the Zebra guys to
chain saw it down in one afternoon.
Mum loved sitting under that tree. 
Part of her died with it, but it had to be done.

My 10 year old brother
nearly burnt the house down when he
lit a match to papers in the 44 gallon
drum beside the house.
Black smudges up the bricks, mark that memory.

Mum posing in white  gloves, hat,
and Sunday-best clothes
under the ancient almond tree that
soon afterwards got the axe.

The surrounding subururban traffic hum
just the same today. 
Someone has just kicked a goal
on the next door oval.

This place is my retreat. 
Its shadows, backyard spirits, memories,
a living, breathing life force
that keeps me moving forward
through the challenges of today.
Vera Christmas (mum)

Martin Christmas, a South Australian poet and photographer, has been published in many Australian anthologies, and overseas on-line literary magazines including Red River Review (the USA), as Featured Poet, and StepAway Magazine (the UK). He is currently mentoring a young poet and will be the editor of his first poetry book. Martin’s poetry books are Immediate Reflections, The Deeper Inner, D&M Between 2 Men, and Random Adventures (all by Ginninderra Press). He has an M.A. in Cultural Studies. His photographs reflect his interest in urban street and coastal scenes. His spoken word event photographs reflect the living spirits of his subjects.



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