Sunday, April 3, 2011

Tuesday Poem - Indian Summer by Ross Gillett



I wanted a wigwam
My Father Christmas father
found me one.

He pitched it at night,
pushing pegs
into the dark grass,

lacing the flap shut.
He made my dream tent
tight as a drum.


From inside,
the red stencilled chief
glowed on the calico.

He kept me company,
but I saw the gaps
holding him together.

The feathers he wore
were flames
staying away from him.


I loved the slant
of my father’s shadow
sloping over the walls

as he prowled around me.
He was my enemy tribe.

he crept backwards,
his weightless shape
sliding off.


I didn’t come out.
He couldn’t fit in,
but he bent double

to talk treaties,
his face filling the entrance
upside down.

He spoke with a stern grunt.
He knew
the no smiling rule.


There were days
when the wind pulled
at my thin home

and I sat in a flapping
that loosened everything.
In winter, it lived

lightly under my bed,
a big rag
waiting for summer.


I think of that frail
shelter, the door
no one could knock on,

with the faded chief
and, I imagine,
the faint shape

of my father’s shadow.
All folded up
and put away for ever.

Ross Gillett lives in Ballarat. I came upon him when I was judging the Broadway Prize for the Poets Union in Sydney with Peter Bishop, quite a few years back now, and suddenly, out of the hundreds and hundreds of poems submitted, this poem floated up and made its presence felt. It's a quiet poem, but it's strong. I was curious as to the author, and well pleased to meet Ross, someone new to me and such a nice guy. He had been around for a bit but I just hadn't noticed him. He hadn't made his presence felt. He tells me he is on the boil at the moment and I am loving his new work. He reads his work with such precision and clarity with that extra bit of … well I don't know what it is. Maybe it is magic.

And a very very happy clappy birthday to Tuesday Poem which is now one year old!


  1. I think I had that same tent as a kid ...

  2. Happy clappies indeed! And this is a very lovely poem. I love the shape of it, the way the father weaves in and out of it, and the tent. A face at the door, a shadow ... fantastic.

  3. This is hauntingly lovely. It gets at the potential danger a child senses as latent in all fathers, though this father obeys the boundaries, and is clearly benevolent. The child's strength and self-containment is so appealing, and the tent carries that symbolism well, with its chief on the door flap. What we all wanted and dreamed of having when we were little. Cheers!

  4. Gentle, affecting poem, Ross. Love the setting up and packing up imagery as well as the upside down and outside - distant but available - loved father.