A few years ago, I went through a period lasting several years, where a good number of those closest to me died. I had carried coffins in five funerals, one after the other. In retrospect, I see that we continue – changed, if we allow it. My sister lost her father and her husband within three weeks of each other. The depths we plumb without getting answers, are sometimes staggering…..
The first-sun magpie warbled her
Into waking; the rhythmic rumble and hiss of
Surf brought memories like mist then they sharpened.
She opened her eyes to the swaying
Casuarina silhouettes on the bedroom wall
From the low sun; they brought promise when
She looked at Mike as he slept, the colour of hope
And she wanted to touch him but didn’t.
The kettle stirred slowly on the stove.
She stood, arms folded, stoic but small,
Staring through the window to the patch
Behind the dunes where they’d picnicked
Twenty-five years before. They came here
Almost daily in summer with the kids;
He had caught a carpet snake and took it
Home to the old house to keep the vermin down,
Then he got sick, then he got well
But she hadn’t seen a rat in years,
They moved here when he couldn’t work
The old place any more; then he got sick,
Well and now sick for the last time.
It seemed like the perfect place; it
Had happy memories but she couldn’t
Remember why they had moved.
Outside the back door, calm enveloped her:
Children’s voices from the park on
The offshore breeze, the swoop of a kookaburra
Landing in the jacaranda and the always present
Murmur of the waves, like a tap
On the shoulder from eternity.
A few steps to the dune’s crest and the beach
Opened, golden, peaceful and powerful.
She wondered at the sensation – a blanket
Of understanding or indifference – too deep
To be certain. A smile grew within her,
Though she didn’t know why and she wanted
To lift her arms and fly
But where? So she tightened them slightly
Around herself, squeezing out a sigh as the kettle
Song called her from the kitchen.