Troy, in memoriam

The boy in the river said,
Do you like riddles?
on Wednesday, the day Troy died.
We will not forget him.

The river had a mouth
but could not speak.
In the riddle, the river had a bed
but did not sleep,

and banks with no money,
not much …
We heard the broom seeds
clicking in the sunlight
and the stones in its pockets.

Troy had a piece of string,
a pocket-knife, a phone charger,
and an emergency USB cable
in his pockets.
When he took them out
to show us
we saw he also had some stones.
We will not forget him.

He said, I have exactly
what is necessary.
The only thing
for which there was no use
was the stones.
But if you included them
he had everything you’d ever need.

Troy had been in Nikki’s life
a long time before.
We will not forget him.

He loved you, Nikki.
He really, really did.
He couldn’t say enough about you.
He really loved you,

said the friend who saw him last,
Simon, at his funeral.

Many years later he reappeared
and they were together for a year.
Just a year.
It was long enough to make a family

with Levi and Nemo,
the two boys she had with Tim,
and to repair their hearts and
give them hope.

He was a strong man.
He was a brave man.
He was a very cheeky man,

said Nikki’s brother, Splash, in Maori.

He wrote the karakia for Troy and
in it he said we were Troy’s family,
to protect us,
as if calling on the Gods
might be viewed by them as an
aggressive act.

Splash’s prayer
ended with, ‘We will not forget him.
We will not.

Nikki’s boys were not there
to remember,
to remember Troy, because
their father, Tim,
wouldn’t allow them to attend.

It was more than a mean and petty thing to do.
We will not forget this vicious act
of a stupid man,

who kept his sons away from
their step-father’s funeral,
to neither grieve for and mourn him,
nor join their mother and sit beside her
and give her strength.

Troy had a past, from which
he stopped running
when he met Nikki.
They lived together as a family.

He was teaching Levi and Nemo
to be gentlemen, said Nikki.
Because he’d become a gentle man.

She said: ‘He promised me
he’d be with me until the day he died.

He honoured his promise to me.

This was not one of his jokes,
although it was as literal,
and, like a magic trick,
Do you like magic tricks?
it had taken practice and patience to learn.

It was the trick of
bridging the past and with Nikki
seeing it open up,
its facts and secrets side
by side, like riverbanks,
and not forgetting.

It had a mouth but
couldn’t speak, a bed but
no sleep
and instead of money
it gave a riddle:

What is a life worth?

All that was in it?

Or the laughter of children playing?

in the shadow of willows
by all yelling out different
things and jumping into
the water at the same time:
Death to the Queen!

I believe I can fly!

on Wednesday, the day Troy died,
with the brave jumping
without tyre inner-tubes,
swimming in the strong current
and the cheeky voices.

[Troy Warwick Neilson,
26th January 1977 –
14th January 2009