VITA ENIM MORTUORUM


The sunlit, grassy hill
in Timaru Cemetery
where we buried him
acts like a cupped hand
held to your ear
capturing and amplifying
the calls of the gulls,
the ceaseless, low,
melancholy susurration
of Patiti Point.

It’s a sound bred
amongst vast,
empty Antarctic solitudes
under pale sky,
and ends
as countless pebbles
sucked and rolled around
in infinite wet mouths,
borne on biers of bull kelp
and bladder wrack.

A surf beach,
it only gives fragments back,
like the Alzheimer’s
that held my grandfather’s
last years captive,
gnawing away
little by little
at the shoreline of his memories
until the irreducible essence
was all that remained.

The sea
will take the bones too,
in time.
The waters rise
to meet us all
as we float down forever,
but for now
there is solace
in the white noise
of islands contoured
and redrafted.
For now

we have our memories.

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