for Eddie and Sin Ae
Painting the former lord mayor’s house,
ceilings, walls and skirting boards,
with all its view out on the river,
is it only he who sees
the furnishings, the toys,
their quality, their lack of plastic?
Perched on Eskys over lunch,
they’ve wondered at the big divorce.
It’s been all through the papers.
The house must soon be up for sale
and split straight down the middle;
the house this cheery team with rollers,
drop cloths, planks and trestles
has saved from entropy.
All day the radio sustains them.
The man who’s noticing the toys
has had enough of painting.
It’s time he started for himself.
Farewell, the smell of wet acrylic.
Hello, the coffee bar in town;
then on to something larger;
money making money;
a relative sought out perhaps;
the hours, of course, too long at first.
Where do lord mayors start exactly?
Fifty thousand from a parent?
Three jobs, two with overtime?
Ambition with a tint of caution?
This newborn son has made the difference—
the pleasure and the obligations.
There’s been enough of scraping back,
of youth and preparations,
of hours supplied to someone else
who has, he’ll happily concede,
taught him all he knows.
He’s wary though of too much greed
and where obsessions end.
Of all the luxury he sees
it’s still the pedal car that does it,
out there on the patio,
made of metal, thirties retro,
a miracle for children’s parties,
ordered in from overseas
and heard of through a colleague.
His boy at home will be too old;
a grandson though, in thirty years,
will master its controls
and wear no trace of paint.