Graeme Hetherington: ‘Taking It Out On The Wood’

Taking It Out On The Wood

On Sunday afternoons behind
Rosebery’s Community Hall, blocks
Of wood like torsos were set up

For blokes to get life off their chests
By savagely chopping through them.
Hungover, down-at-mouth from not

Winning even a brass razoo
From the bookie on Saturday,
My father took part in this sport

After “The Roast” where he’d inveigh
Against injustices at work,
Mother serving, withdrawn, cold,

As in bed, he’d confided to
Me, arm around him as he threw
Up, crying-drunk in the woodshed,

While Gran, mad from religion, said
We all deserved to choke to death
Because it was the lamb of God,

Nevertheless eating her fill,
And I’d be asked if “ciss” was still
The names kids called me by at school.

Taught how to sharpen the axe with
A hand-sized spit-wet grindstone, blade
Facing away from me, I had,

As part of being made a man
To go with him and shout “come on!”,
Watch white chips fly instead of blood.

Graeme Hetherington

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