Twenty years in one house is a very long time, but that’s the anniversary that came up yesterday for us at number 124. We had communicated with a real estate agent before we arrived from the UK and bought the first house she showed us. We moved in just over a month later. We were thirty-six at the time and it was our first and so far, only house.

Son Tom was five and has vague recollections of London, Lulu, then two, has none. This is the only family home she’s known. Which is perhaps why she was quite so vehement when we mooted the possibility of selling.  We’re empty nesters now and though we love the place, we do rather rattle and roll around in it.

Thinking about this reminded me of one of my poems in my first collection, It’s your Dad. I suppose I first wrote it about ten years ago and I hadn’t read it or thought about it for some time. It’s a little dark in some ways, but there you go, see what you think.

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Am I bothered

 

I shoot hoops alone with a deflated ball

The net hangs forlorn, dangling.

New neighbours play

In their new-to-them pool,

vacated by an older couple

moved on to a flat section.

 

My son watches Friends on TV

Study leave, brain leave

“Am I bothered?” the kids shriek cheerfully, telling me

they’re migrant Poms, like me, only fresher.

Am I bothered says the prodigal –

no words, just attitude and hooded eyes.

 

Despite myself, I’ve metamorphosed, mildly,

meekly, into middle age

We arrived like our neighbours

and now we’re not. Will I blink again

and start looking for a flat section?

 

Am I bothered?

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**** Copies of It’s your Dad are still available from bad and good bookshops or direct from me, please just private message me or email pete@petecarter.nz

Pete Carter is the author of This is Us. Due out in June 2020 it will be published by Exisle and tells the story of more than 200 New Zealanders in words and pictures. The book is really a portrait of the nation and how it is made up. Pete wrote Our Dog Benji a children’s book illustrated by his nephew, published by EK in 2017. He is also the author of two books of poetry. He has had magazine articles published and poetry in anthologies. As a photographer he has had two solo exhibitions and work included in group exhibitions in NZ and overseas and has sold work to and been commissioned by corporate clients.

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