Ballad at Manifold's

I remember you, Kath, the quiet woman
sat with Kate on a bench at Manifolds’:
our mandolines. Those Saturdays, the Wynnum
river-flats, a hawk circling, the ballads scored
 
for guitar, violin, recorder, lagerphone . . .
oh friends! Still lit and live, sixty years on!
John full-throated, haling the comrades in – 
workers, students, blacks – but it wasn’t your scene.
 
Just a few times I fronted your shy smile,
your frank laughter. Slim woman in a pleated skirt,
surely Black Alice’s jolly sneers snagged your pride,
being bossed to play, even friendly bossing, stirred
 
a century’s hurt. Your cause and your course clear
you were off through the weatherboard suburb to the bay 
and out to the islands, your people waiting there
in want of words, you with the words to say. 

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