requiem
joan metelerkamp    
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Remember
recordare

Hot months, dry -
 and you not here -

holiday makers returning
my house filling
      stove burning

west wall leached of its sealing,
man lugging scaffolding -

months like constriction, like watching
your granddaughter sit still to breathe
when she was little, and you, ministering -

in the dark, lights on the dust, up the hill, home-coming -
firey throated night-jar in the warm road in front of us -

coming home, children almost asleep, breathing,
as we were, as children, on occasion
in the back of the station wagon -

in the back of the station wagon
as the sacks of young calves
on Monday mornings, weekly propitiation,
weekly boarding school -

and all our lives, somewhere, in the back of
all knowing,
somehow you would do it;
all Sundays all safety all everything
always coming to a close:
Sunday nights,
Sabbath blues.

I lie on my bed, breathless, head splitting,
husband and children down at your house -
Sunday lunch, "Granny's farm";

(last night the warm dark the lights soothing
the summer dirt road)

and always
you shoot yourself

Sunday lunch, Christmas, feasts, friends,
your flowered plates, your fast talk, loud laugh -
every morning you stood up again stood in the doorway
to your mother's suicide
all the days since the days
of the calves in the sacks, the young bulls, the abattoir,
the farm, the stories -

your grandmother's farm - Xanadu -
her Sunday lunch,
two austrolorpes, a sirloin of beef, five veg, puddings,
and uncles and cousins and stories -
you on your back on the back of the donkey cart,
    on sacks of lucerne

behind the Magaliesberg
the sun going down.