The March

Pitt St. Just after the Dawn Service, April ’08, my first.
I’m here because somehow I want to have my father back,
To take him from the photos taken just three years ago,
—When he was pink-checked, sure-footed, erect,
And have him back. “Hey Bob, Hey Pa, Dad, over here!”

I feel a fraud, small and unwashed, wearing his service medals,
Going to line up with those blokes we’d abused back during Vietnam.
The street’s deserted, the crowd’s ducked off, most into the early opening
McDonalds, it seems. Workers in their fluoro jackets
From a Sydney City Council truck hose down the gutters.
Light, grey and foreign, after the warmer dark, slides across the upper windows.

Then a digger steps out, from the other side of the street and crosses,
Not drunkenly but unsteadily. Gamely, as if there were no other option.
Not on the arm of a son nor holding the hand of a grandchild.
Not even a mate keeping pace
It’s the walk of a simple, utter loneliness.

He heads east, steadies himself against the building on the comer
As a gust funnels past, thumping like a boxer, and bends into the light,
To the coming day, to the next few hours, to what he remembers of faces,

And I think of that newsreel of a young man capering down Martin Place
And how then the crowds had seemed to part for him.

Russell Erwin

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