My Father the Magpie

Kylie A Hough
Thirty-eight thousand feet in the air Collingwood has the lead with thirty-nine points to Westcoast’s twenty-seven. My dad walks with a limp and we laugh when he waves his T-Rex claw and yells at the television. I bring Stone & Wood to chapped lips, my brother stims, my sister prattles. Mum stabs the roast chook with a silver fork. Mid-flight the Boeing traverses the Pacific Ocean from Denarau to Brisbane. The wound I hoped would heal with sunshine, grandkids and salt water under the Sundale Bridge, suppurates. Time is a liar. Where the Nerang River runs to its mouth and Southport spills into the sea, Dad wants to say something but the wind drives horizontal rain onto the window panes and the holler drowns out his voice. Thankfully. The Pies maintain their lead. When the plane begins its descent, the score is seventy-seven to fifty-five and my heart swells. Dad curses. The sticks he threw stuck like firewood in my funny bone. My brother phones to tell me Dad has days. I walk into the rain to write the right words but the river breaks its banks. I waddle back inside because Dad was right when he said I never was the swimmer they told me I was. Memories itch like scars I made the day Mum walked out. The first time. One for each wrist. Collingwood loses to Westcoast, seventy-four to seventy-nine before the wheels kiss the tarmac. Brooding Magpies hang their heads. I spend the night staring at a suitcase, thinking on mistakes that can’t be unmade. Days disappear. In a Ghost Gum outside a muggy hospital room on the outskirts of Brisbane a magpie sings. The sonorous hole in my heart expands to encompass an old man with dinosaur digits.

Kylie A Hough writes on Yugambeh land. In 2015 Kylie received the Lucy Elizabeth Craigie Award, the Richard B Smith Memorial Prize and the Australian Federation of Graduate Women Inc. (AFGW) NSW (Armidale) UNE ARTS AWARD. She was a finalist in the Gertrude Stein Award in Fiction 2018 and long listed in Room Magazine’s 2021 Creative Nonfiction Contest. In 2021 Kylie received a CA/ASA Award Mentorship and a Pushcart Prize nomination. Her work appears in literary journals including OyeDrum, Litro, Verity La, Posit, Burrow, The Canberra Times, Other Terrain, Antithesis and The Journal of Compressed Creative Arts.



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