Representations of Home Creative Journal

ROAM - Summer/Autumn 2023 - ROAM 3

One Life

José Marques

Mother, you are so sweet

there is so much love in your eyes

and the future looks bright.

I think I love you.

Father, you are so strong

you fought to make others free

and they put you in jail.

I think I love you too.

Mother, why did you marry father?

He was a communist

always running from the police

and you wandered the country

with two young children in your arms

looking for a place to be safe.


Father left politics and took us far away –

a small step to France, and a long jump

to Australia, land of sheep and kangaroos.

What an adventurer father was!

But mother, you took your suffering with you

carried it in your heart

and it became a poison

that kept you from your children.

Father, I wished you had loved us

more than the freedom of Man

but you were a visionary and we also

became visionaries in our own way.

You died from exhaustion at the wheel of a car

working to sustain your family

and your countrymen, in a distant land.

Mother, I am glad I knew you

even if it was difficult to love you.


Grandmother, I loved returning to Portugal

and thinking of you, of the times we had together

travelling on rickety trams

crossing busy streets

and selling knick-knacks on the street corner.

I loved standing on top of the world

in the ramparts of Marvão

where we spent our holidays with you.

You were not nice to my mother

(your daughter-in-law)

and contributed to her suffering

but I was too young to know.


Grandfather, I loved the garden

that you planted, its coolness

and the fresh smell of earth and vegetables.

I loved being silent with you

eating pork sausage and bread.

Grandfather, why did mother turn out so?


Australia, for thirty-eight years

you were my home.

I loved the opportunities you gave me:

lawyer, civil servant, football player

actor, teacher, writer.

I loved the wide-open spaces

the woman that you gave me

and the child that was born to me

but I never really loved you –

the moistness in my heart

in your dry land did not blossom.


I sought solace in spirituality

but not finding God, found

the woman of my dreams.

Through tears and pain, and faith

in ourselves and each other

we restarted our lives

found love and a life together

and created a miracle:

our daughter Isabel.


Son, you are not forgotten.

You were born of a mismatch

between two lost souls

and it took a long time and many trials

but we came to walk side by side.

I could have been a better father

I am sorry.

But I am glad that my daughter

has you as her brother.


Portugal, you are so frustrating

with your bureaucracies

your lack of ambition and discipline

but the sun shines brightly

the ocean breeze is cooling

and your people have generous hearts

and love children.

Here I think, I will live out my life –

my ashes are to be scattered

over the walls of Marvão.


José Marques


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