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The Purple and the SunSpill your blood on the seven swords –The Purple and the Sun by Meggie272
as darkness comes, they are shouting
Artos, Artos, Artos.
You are not just a man. I’ll say it again,
even as you sweat and grunt, shag-headed,
terrible and real. You are not just a man. Let your
heavy head fall, and become
the bones of the hills
and the birds
of the sky.
Let them claim you for their own,
Emperor, o Emperor,
even as the smoke tastes bitter
on your tongue. The Sun is setting,
and the thing is done. Die, and live forever,
with what you’re given.
A crown of oak leaves,
and a lake,
for your resting place.
my father was born in 1944,
a war child.
my mother was born in 1957,
six months before sputnik was sent
into the void.
eucalyptus leaves are slicks
of fragrant summer in every december
of every year I have ever lived. my
limbs grow long, my freckles
fade, my blood’s still
i am thirteen and it’s
winter. my mother calcifies, her eyes a
vacant burn, and i realise that we hold
our shoulders the exact same way
when we're mad.
i pull the trigger.
black powder is in my lungs.
“good,” dad says.
the rifle slams back.
i read mum’s poetry, haikus,
written before i was born. delicate
and real like nasturtiums in the
dirt. i am seventeen and aching. i reach
my hands out and try to touch her history,
her shining dark story, woman who is half me
and three times herself, but she eludes me,
tells me, dinner’s ready. i can never find anything these days,
i cannot eat the food she cooks.
he talks to me about politics,
he tells me he remembers looking
out the window and seeing his father come
home. he must have been, what, one,
but he says he remembers the man
in khaki, walking up the suburban street,
backpack on his back.
coming home, doctor, soldier,
coming home. australia stretched out thin,
hot and swollen and sad, and the
fathers coming home.
he looks away, the lines under his
eyes as familiar as the press of an old gun
against my collarbone, as familiar
as the smell of my sister’s cigarette
across the ruined cities of
mum would have been an astrophysicist,
if she hadn’t started having babies
at nineteen. in the old photos of her she
stares and her eyes are bright and blue like
stars. mine are
muddy, like dad’s,
i have his feet, and maybe
i have his chin, steady and strong like him.
but i cry when i think about grandpa
walking down that street, that suburban street,
every single time i weep –
and my dad’s
only ever cried once that i know of,
listening to an old record
the night that grandma died.
some military march, drums
tight and thin and true.
he’s old. it breaks my
heart. and i will never tell him
trust in god and keep
your powder dry.
i am six. he puts the air rifle
against my shoulder, and tells me to
pull the trigger tight.