We became friends
like rain in the tropics
there were no beginnings
it just began – strong and resolute.
I never quite understood how
too young to be my father
too old for big brother.
Perhaps it was cricket
we were both mad about the game.
An uncomplicated man
never more than a farm labourer
in a research facility – with the title science technician.
Not unsuccessful – far from it
living proof of the virtues of hard work
always two jobs – sometimes three.
Tiredness often kept his company
it could have been the evening work.
We sought each other out most days
talk, laughter and occasional gossip.
Once expecting emphatic denial I quietly ask
of newly heard tittle tattle – a staff member beat his wife.
He seemed especially tired that day
taking a long time
then spoke with a lack of speed
which seemed the makings of age.
“You haven’t been here very long.”
Stark and harsh on paper
soft by ear.
A not heard before voice flat tones
what seems best is not always better.
pretence is preferable
denial was probable. Certain.
In their street clothes, the authorities couldn’t not know.
Exposure would find rage – then revenge.
In my forties I returned to the small town
where my career was hatched but not fledged.
Two decades removed from self acquittal
life’s abrasions clarify understanding of indifference.
We let her down.
I never got to tell him.
When I returned
he had too – to his maker.