Academic journal article Antipodes

Kapok Pillow

Academic journal article Antipodes

Kapok Pillow

Article excerpt

Dad was one of the "Rats of Tobruk"

& at home during my early


we often had our own private

theatre of war

dad going awol from work

drinking the day away...

to stagger home midafternoon

& throw missiles around

barking orders like the

RSM he never was

if we were lucky he might just

fall into bed

still in his y-fronts & singlet

& far too drunk to reach his socks

he'd gradually fill the ashtray

on his bedside table

& if luck stayed with us-

he'd likely go off on the nod

i remember lifting a red brick

alongside the veranda

one hot summer's day after school

& grabbing our front door key

there was a strange smell when i

let myself in

a smell i couldn't recognize-

& i panicked

i tip-toed through the hallway slowlychecked

the kitchen & the laundry

looking for mum then the clothesline-

but she didn't seem to be


i kept sniffing the air

calling softly in my little boy's voice

mum mum are you there

yet nothing came back but a smell

which i could only sense as death

after weeks of dad's drinking

& arguments

& threats

& broken crockery

& living with the fear

i inched my way along

the passage

sniffing the acrid air&

& i got to the toilet

the door was flung wide open

& the white porcelain pan was

choked high above the wooden

seat with a charry mess

it gave off the smell of death

& i looked around for an axe

i thought it was my mother's


my tears & wails brought him

out of the bedroom

unsteady in his grey socks

he slurred

ya mum's out shopping

don't worry about that mess-

i went to sleep with a cigarette

i stuffed me pillow down

the shithouse & pulled the chain

it's gone out now. …

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