Song Notes

How does a child learn that it is ok to be happy when all those around them have lost the ability to feel joy and experience pleasure? I gave my sister a copy of this song and she thought it was
about our mother – the mother she grew up with: the mother I never knew. I think it is about all our mothers, and, all our fathers. It is the legacy of war – big and small, dislocation and the learning of how to accept shame as if it were healthy and normal. This song is a punch in those beliefs while honouring the sadness.


he moves down the street in a windswept ballet,
to the sound of the mariner’s rhyme
Porcelain skin etched with old pain,
heart in her hand pantomime.
Gone is the safety and gone is the saviour,
and gone is the light in her eyes
She never quite found her way back from night
He was lost in that crimson washed tide.

Springtime would come and she’s find herself,
waiting for summer to fade
For hours and hours it seemed she could kneel,
her own pleasure she’d learn to delay
Brocaded satin and vows sworn in Latin,
stained yellow and spent with old time
Haunted by shadows of ghosts of
commanders: her threshold a family line

I felt sorry echo through each word she spoke,
I was helpless to this killing despair
She said: “Life’s a rehearsal for the next time around,
my shame is a pain I can bear”
The embarcadero’s ghosts, would beckon,
once she thought her prince had been saved
But there was nothing there, when she reached for his shoulder,
so she withdrew from all those who cared.

For 35 years she tried not to pretend
that the man she was with was the one
We’d hold on tight on those rides to the
station, “In time you learn to care”
Oh, the more he was gone, the more she’d return,
and then never again his sweet rage
Now she burns sacraments, and salutes the men,
for their part in this evil charade.

I refused the divide; I would not take sides,
I’d be honest as both of them taught
Touched by the lives of the times that they’d lived,
but for me, their dreams: they forgot
For what they believed, for their wish that I be,
I will dance this one serenade
For where is the line between sadness and madness,
and me, and the part that I played?

And, where will I be, and who will be near,
when it’s time for me to take leave?
Will my ghosts take their seats, when the curtains come down,
and my flash becomes my conceit?
She spoke with acceptance at a holiday breakfast
that her ashes be scattered at sea
And how will it feel, that moment revealed,
will I learn before then to be free? Ahhhh!