Wednesday, 11 April 2012

The Last Hellos

Don't die, Dad--
but they die.

This last year he was wandery:

took off a new chainsaw blade
and cobbled a spare from bits.
Perhaps if I lay down
my head'll come better again.
His left shoulder kept rising
higher in his cardigan.

He could see death in a face.

Family used to call him in
to look at sick ones and say.
At his own time, he was told.

The knob found in his head

was duck-egg size. Never hurt.
Two to six months, Cecil.

I'll be right
, he boomed
to his poor sister oon the phone
I'll do that when I finish dyin.

I'll do that whe*

Don't die, Cecil.

But they do.

Going for last drives

in the bush, odd massive

board-slotted stumps bony white

in whipstick second growth.
I could chop all day.

I could always cash
a cheque, in Sydney or anywhere.
Any of the shops.

Eating, still at the head

of the table, he now missed
food on his knife side.

Sorry, Dad, but like
have you forgiven your enemies?
Your father and all them?

All his lifetime of hurt.

I must have,
(grin). I don't
think about that now.
I'll do that whe*

People can't say goodbye

any more. They say last hellos.

Going fast, over Christmas,

he'd still stumble out
of his room, where his photos
hang over the other furniture,
and play host to his mourners.

The courage of his bluster,

firm big voice of his confusion.

Two last days in the hospital:

his long forearms were still
red mahogany. His hands
gripped steel frame. I'm dyin.

On the second day:

You're bustin to talk
but I'm too busy dyin.

I'll do that whe*

Grief ended when he died,

the widower like soldiers who
won't live life their mates had missed.

Good boy, Cecil! No more Bluey dog.

No more cowtime. No more stories.
We're still using your imagination,
it was stronger than all ours.

Your grave's got littler

somehow in the three months.
More pointy as the clay's shrivelled,
like a stuck zip in a coat.

Your cricket boots are in

the State museum! Odd letters
still come. Two more's died since you:
Annie and Stewart. Old Stewart.

On your day there was a good crowd,

family, and people from away.
But of course a lot had gone
to their own funerals first.

Snobs mind us off religion

nowadays, if they can.
Fuck them. I wish you God.

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