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David Ades: Nothing and Everything

 for Paul Askern

Man, what an induction you gave me,

rolling that joint of fresh Sumatran grass
on the little deck of a longhouse

overlooking Lake Toba, your fingers deft

and practised, while the lake sparkled
tranquil below us and light faded

from the afternoon sky. 

You were the master and I the eager acolyte,
straight and wanting to bend a little,

coughing with my first inhalation.

Was it Ian who was with us then,
the Canadian with a guitar, repeatedly playing

Moonshadow as we journeyed through Sumatra, 

the guy who might have saved my life
the day a water buffalo suddenly

charged us in the middle of a field,

his scream causing it to stop dead in its tracks,
snorting, only feet away from us,

while I was frozen to the spot, 

and then turn away, as if wondering whatever
had gotten into its head?

I forget. No doubt his name is in my diary

if I could find it, and you could tell me
if you were here.

And that time in Brastagi, walking the main street,

when I noticed children gathering behind us, 
more and more of them,

and I turned to the two of you, tall, broad-shouldered

and whispered that on the count of three
we should turn and charge, 

screaming at the top of our lungs,

the glint in your eye then, your readiness for mischief,
a wildness of children scattering in panic,

adults up and down the street doubled up in laughter,

and days of children jumping out at us from behind 
walls and trees, screaming in delight,

our game become theirs.

You watched, with quiet delight, a knowing smile
on your face as I began to giggle,

as I laughed uproariously, and couldn’t stop,

nothing and everything too funny for words,
as I eventually took myself to lie down and sleep it off.

Who can I share these things with

now that you are gone? I will speak of them 
while I can, to whoever will listen, 

holding on to my memories of you, our friendship.

Copyright 2022 David Ades

David Ades’s books include Afloat in Light (University of Western Australia, 2017). He lives in Australia.

2 comments on “David Ades: Nothing and Everything

  1. Mary B Moore
    November 8, 2022

    Love this “Tales from the Sixties” or seventies, the raucous joy and the downturn, mortality, the end.


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This entry was posted on November 8, 2022 by in Health and Nutrition, Poetry and tagged , , , .

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