Saturday, December 10, 2016

Nathanael O'Reilly #33 As He Lies Dying

As He Lies Dying

In another hemisphere,
across half a continent
and an ocean, my grandfather
lies dying. I am unable
to hold his hand,
kiss his forehead,
share a longneck
of Carlton Draught,
say Remember when your bull
almost gored me at Timboon?
I should have listened to you
and stayed on the trailer.
My daughter loves the painting
of the gallah you gave her
last time we visited, before
we had to put you in the home.
The Jerilderie Letter
really is pure Irish bush poetry.
I often think about the taste
of the molasses you gave
me from the bucket
in the dairy after milking.
You never told me your
favourite Slim Dusty song.
I never cared that I never
caught any fish when you took
me fishing at Logan’s beach.
I just wanted to be with you,
watch you cast out beyond
the breaking waves, reel
in whiting after whiting
as if they were waiting
for you to bring them home.
I always admired the way
you broke the necks
of the kittens we found
in the hessian sack
beside the rubbish bin
in the beach car park.
You were stoic in your mercy,
quick and pragmatic, silent,
but I saw the tear before
you erased it with the back
of your sun-damaged hand.


  1. This is a wonderful tribute, Nat. An amazing and startling poem.

  2. That is such a beautiful tribute. May those shared memories last forever.

  3. Replies
    1. Thanks, Mark! And that reminds me - I read Concrete Flamingos a little while back and thoroughly enjoyed it. "Crossing the mountains" is my favorite poem in the book.

  4. So very beautiful Nat, and I know that country and I remember molasses in the bucket

    1. Thanks, James. I must have been five or six at the time, but I'll never forget the taste and the setting.

  5. A touching tribute of beautiful love and memory.


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