THE SHINY WALLET
I would climb Daddy’s lap and belly
Like a big cat and child jabber questions.
His newspaper slapped and flapped as I
Jumpily squirmed and headed my eyes
Around daily newsprint in his hairy arms.
And got tangled in bracers that I snapped.
Sometimes he had toffees among the coins in his pant pockets.
I would push my little hands in to wrestle them out.
Sometimes I pulled out an old friction polished wallet.
I would try to hide his wallet for fun.
‘Buffalo hide’, my Dad would say and
Carrying me to bed would tell me stories
Tales from the Maoris of New Zealand
Or taboos from the Tahiti where he was born.
I would fall asleep enveloped by wonder.
When I got to the hospital Mom was sobbing
A doctor came into the waiting room.
And put that shiny buffalo wallet in my hands.
It became a wordless symbol
Of death and loss.
Cells and fibres snapped
That wallet brought no joy now.