Once another piano played on a rainy day
Well before currawongs and cicadas
Shook the silence of a Sydney burb.
It was ’61, gloves, admiralty engagements
Beaut barbeques at the beach
Summer cliches as foreign as the sounds.
Inside was sanctuary. A mother knew
The piano. We knew scrabble, and sort of
Each other in a familial kind of way
Though the ocean voyage had rocked
More than stomachs. Spelling was the easy bit.
Australia, pronounced straya. Not strelitzia
That grew across the sea in arid beauty.
Sydney, pronounced siney. Not sunny
For that year was the rainiest on record
Sinives streets turned to mud
I wore wellies to school. What was called
A swimming pool was brown with sand.
We packed our bags again a year later.
Hauled the piano back across the sea
A prelude to the afternoon of a faun called
Springbok. Apartheid had not yet made it
Into the OED but changed our lives
Again. The board was coloured
Not black and white. We spelt
Not spelled, we had takkies, slipslops
Not thongs, but still the music played on
And on. Before currawongs and cicadas
Brought a kind of beauty to the heat
We knew pavane, estampes and nocturne
Though foreign words did not count
Nor names. Disoriented, yes and a mother
Still at sea playing the waves and Debussy.
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