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He’d been gone months,

swimming with dolphins and kissing English girls.

 

On his return they nailed a sign between the branches of the fir tree in the front garden-

In red paint it said ‘Welcome Home Son!’

and despite a tightness somewhere behind the front of his neck

his eyes were full of gladness

 

On the night of The Question

(it was summer in Ponsonby and the day’s end seemed so bright, so elusive)

he wound the longest-found string of fairy lights around the largest tree trunk in the front garden,

setting the scene with a red tablecloth and mussels just like they ate in Barcelona that night in June three years before-

She laughed ‘yes, you div’ and a shiver

of destined possibility snaked through him

 

When the youngest turned five they moved to a quieter town.

This front garden’s tree was unknown, and he searched in vain for his grandfather’s book to name it.

 

With the time he saved on his daily commute

he hewed a swing seat to fly each child in turn, squeals pealing through those small-town streets

 

While the branch whispered with a creak of timbery satisfaction,

like it was happy to have served its purpose

 

 

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