H  O  M  E    &    A   W   A   Y      2  0  1  0
   n z e p c
Frankie McMillan  

All Together Now: A Digital Bridge for Auckland and Sydney             


My father’s balance    
Le mariage des funambules

It requires practice
not the falling, but the art of equilibrium      
There he is, sleek as a raven in black tails
the white rim of collar
and cuffs show his preciseness for small details
like the placement
of a foot, the exact centre of mass directly above
the wire, the way
his hands clasp the balance pole. Today a wind –    
and because his bride  
is a little unsure, the breeze tugging her veil  
he’s arranged a ladder  
to dismount from the rope at either side,
she need
only lower her pole and the riggers will heed.  
His ears are tuned
to the calibrations of passing clouds, the wing beat
of doves, but mostly
her advance – watch how my father stands steady
balance pole dipping
thin leather slippers curved to the wire



Working in the halfway house

I pick up bad habits like smoking
on the back porch after lights out
and a tendency to see dead people

passing across the sky as stars
say, Freddie Baxter, who jumped

from the Takaka bridge his pockets
weighted with stones, he’s there
next to the South Celestial Pole.

Yours was a slow reckoning 
not until spring did your bones
turn to chalk. There’s nothing

to dying you said and a small
pride lit your eyes as if you’d

mastered the trick; a clever horse
tapping its name out in letters

would you laugh to know I still
wait for your crossing, matches
in hand to frighten the dark.


©Frankie McMillan