Poem: “Graveyard Haibun”

(Previously published in Voiceworks #92 ‘THING’)

On Thursday morning I meet Death. We inherit Sydney’s red-dust storm, and our backyard is thick with it. The white cat with the poodle-cut is now auburn. She cleans herself uselessly, tongue moistening dust into clay.

Six am sun casts every gravestone reflective. I never get up this early. I settle on the hot, steady concrete of a grave, and try to learn silence.

Scarlet beetles skitter through dry leaves. Cicadas hum in hollows. Our raised necropolis is more awake than anywhere in this lidded city.

spring’s new crows
let sleeping dead lie

I breathe and watch. For a rare moment, my mind too is warm, dark stone.

I go out to feed my flatmate’s old rat and find that his lungs are full of the desert. I sit on the kitchen floor with him in my lap. He is thin-blooded – an aspirin-thief in his youth. Now, his nose has stopped bleeding for the first time in months. Droplets congeal in the dust on his snout. I feel his body cease.

on the floor
we share rigor mortis

The cats sniff around us. They do not interfere.

I return alone, and enter the wilderness without pith helmet or field knife. Birds own the graveyard, swooping for me to turn back; the dead and I are just guests.

If I am very still, I fade into this place. My shadow thickens into my own ghost, leads me down paths that are only pretending. I wouldn’t mind being lost here. (I am already lost.)

hoop pines rise
from the jaws of skeletons
a final word

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