Mark Tredinnick – Apothecary

Mark Treddinick LEP&W V2 Dec 2022

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Live Encounters Poetry & Writing Volume Two December 2022.

Apothecary, poems by Mark Tredinnick.


I LEAVE the dogs with my boy, and I go to the counter
Of the pharmacy, an old-school apothecary, where Bronwyn
Keeps the scripts my father and my mother depend on
These days. Dad’s asked me to pick up the meds
For them: painkillers, blood thinners, ironisers. Most
Of their diet now. She comes to me from speaking to Dad
By phone, shaking her kind head and saying, he’s such
A sweet man. Yes, but isn’t it a shame, I say, it didn’t carry
To his children. She laughs. Sometimes these things skip a generation.

My son outside—awkward and loyal and handsome—holds
The dogs, who keep him busy, waiting, with all the strength
In their sweet hearts at the very end of their long leads, for me,
And I think of Ted Kooser feeling in his ageing cells how his mother (no)
And his father (yes) still keep their kitchen vigil over him. First,
I think, they carry us, and then we carry them, and so on …

The Afternoon &
the Night Ahead

NEAR THE END OF a Sunday in summer
That had worn itself out all day doing its best

Impression of winter, the wind coming hard from the south,
The clouds darkening and breaking up, the sunlight

Billowing like sails and having its bright way
With them, I took a break from long hours

At the desk, and I pulled out a book of poems,
Trying to read the shrillness from me. In A Book

Of Luminous Things, I came on “Irises:”
They hold their breath all their lives and open, open.

And all that an iris ever prays, when it prays: to be.
That’ll do. I send the poem to my friend, and I make

A plan for the evening ahead: A walk by the river
As dusk falls, rehearsing the steps the river wants

To teach me, finding my way in the dark. I’ll shop
For dinner. Later, I might watch the cricket

While I work on an affidavit that I hope will bring
My children home one day. Some emails to set up

The week. I’ll eat perhaps. I’ll wish I had her body
Next to mine on the couch and later… I’ll miss

The children, as I do every night, every morning,
Every midday. One day soon, I tell myself, I’ll

Miss them less and, in their company, begin to miss
Myself again. Who knows what season the weather

Will want to be by then—by tonight, for that matter,
When I take myself too late to bed, calm at last

At midnight, the cat like a semicolon at my
Feet, a soft full stop between one day

And the next, and most of my work ahead of me yet:
The dishes in the sink, this poem, and all the others

That had wanted me like children all day, left for another
Day, to open and open through all the years ahead.

That had wanted me like children all day, left
For another day, to open and open through all the years ahead.

Note: “Of Irises”: “Irises,” Li-Young Lee, in A Book of Luminous Things, Czeslaw Milosz.

@ Mark Tredinnick

Mark Tredinnick is a celebrated Australian poet. His honours include two Premier’s Prizes and the Montreal, Cardiff, Newcastle, Blake and ACU poetry prizes. His writing and teaching over twenty-five years have touched the lives and influenced the work of many; in 2020 Mark received an OAM for services to literature and education. His books include Fire Diary, A Gathered Distance, The Blue Plateau, and The Little Red Writing Book, and Walking Underwater (2021). His fifth collection, A Beginner’s Guide, is just out.

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