Academic journal article Antipodes

A Tight Circle

Academic journal article Antipodes

A Tight Circle

Article excerpt

At my uncle's grave the undertakers

ask us to come in closer, form a tight circle.

A big ask, for a family made straggly by grief.

Some need distance from the hole.

A stranger wearing an Essendon beanie

stands close. Who does he belong to?

The priest has a glint in his eye.

He is on home turf, was raised

a paddock away. His father,

buried nearby, grew up picking spuds.

My uncle drove trucks for a living

cut down bush for firewood,

but was too weak for a new pacemaker.

Only two days ago

he was gasping for breath in a hospital ward

his body shelled, one eye quivering in the light.

The undertakers, former farmers,

who most people know and are beginning to trust

give instructions to my cousins

on how best to lower my uncle into the darkness.

Nose-first, they jockey him under the concrete lip

then slowly relinquish their grip

on the lowering straps. …

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