Sunday, February 21, 2010

bush burial

This is a response to Elizabeth's discussion about dead babies.  It's my one and only grief poem.

let's do it   
grab knife         find matches

no moon    dog jumping        white trunks         withered grass

tear off paper        grey boxes        square labels        typed names

sharp blade     locked hard     prise open

start to cry

plastic bags            one each        rip hole        fingers scrabble

  sharp gritty        grab handful        throw     shower        sob wail    bent double 
  handful         handful

                swap sons            

sprinkle Christopher         scatter Joel

more ash        right hand            hurl stick for dog         with left

weep softly    press against cheek        scratch face         on triangular bone

upend bag        final shake        drifting motes         black space

collect twigs        sit         cold ground   

boxes smoulder        smoke curls        stars wheel         plastic melts

clutch together             up the track            rustle leaves            ringtail stare

    wash babies         off face 
scrub fingernails

    cling in bed        tears keep dribbling   

        3 am            sleep   


  1. I'm glad you've posted this, Gretta. For me knowing ou, it's still devastating.

    I know you're also heavily into the stuff of show, don't tell, but maybe you need to tell, at least a little about your life here, others will otherwise only wonder.

    If It's okay with you, and I trust it is, I'm going to put up your poems from the poetry collection, 'The Second Worst Thing: Poems on Surviving the Death of a Child'.

    There are many people in the blogosphere who will resonate with your experience. They'll want to know, and not from some ugly curiosity but out of a genuine need to share the pain.

    I think this is a universal need and I find that we bloggers attempt to meet it in our daily communications.

    We can't talk about these things with our actual friends, certainly not years after the events, when we're supposed to have 'gotten over it', but we can with our blogging companions. Again and again. They want to know.

    I think this is ever so important, however much it might make you want to cry again. We can cry together.

    Thanks, Gretta.

  2. mm, I guess I'm OK with that. I'd forgotten about them. I'll be surprised to see what's there!

    I differ from you so totally in that I don't want to spend this present time going over the past. There is so much NOW to interest me. I certainly don't want to go over it again and again!

    Of course the past is always present in me too, but where I find myself now is what I want to explore. I want to share the fabulousness of the Kimberley and its people, not old grief.

    I will tell people about my life as I feel like it, but remember it is not your story to tell, my dear friend.

  3. You're right here, Gretta. I hope I haven't overstepped your mark. If I have I can always clean the slate. Your poems will only stay on my blog as long as you're okay with them there.

  4. ok with the poems, lis, but will you take my full name off your label list. while it's there, your blog comes up when anyone googles me. I have not allowed blogspot to allow google searches under my full name

    hope you understand that garbled instruction! thanks for your support - all part of getting used to blogging

  5. Powerful, sad... it took me a moment to muster enough in the moment to respond. Your choice of format accentuates the emotion.

  6. I'll take your full name off my blog, Gretta. I wondered about it first off and thought since your poems are on the so-called public record anyway...but that's fine. I'll take it off.

    I've agonised all day about this and by chance came across a wonderful quote from bell hooks about this very issue.

    She writes:
    No need to hear your voice when I can talk about you better than you can speak about yourself. No need to hear your voice. Only tell me about your pain. I want to know your story. And then I will tell it back to you in a new way. Tell it back to you in such a way that it has become mine, my own. bell hooks, 1990.

    The other person who comes to mind is a fellow called Thomas Couser who writes about 'vulnerable subjects', namely those who are unable to speak for themselves and for whom others elect to speak, eg those with disabilities like Alzheimers, autism and even children.

    It is a vexed issue. Whenever we try to tell our own stories we invariably tell those of others as well.

    As you know, it's something I've struggled with for years. And it won't go away.

    I hope I have not stuffed up too much here.

  7. lis, i'm rushing here, so i'll just comment on the full name issue.

    Yes, i know those poems are on the public record, but my blog is not on the public record - there is a difference. Just as you don't have your full name on your blog, but it can be traced, so I choose not to have my full name on. It can be found, but with difficulty.

    If you leave my full name on, it comes up near the top if you google me. I don't want that - it has nothing to do with grief or stories - just internet privacy. As a matter of general net courtesy, it's best not to put full names up unless you have asked if that's ok.

    This privacy stuff is probably not of interest to your followers.

  8. swap sons
    sprinkle Christopher
    scatter Joel

    Oh, this is so intense. I like remembering the past because it guides me in the present but I don't dwell on it. I hope that others don't dwell on it either especially if it involves me.

    As for the full name issue I have my own experience and this has nothing to do with your discussion with Elizabeth. I have a contentious take on the full name issue especially mine. A blogger wrote a novel and self published it. I told her I did not want anyhting to do with it. She assumed it was an honor to be published, not I, especially to be associated with a novel I did not think much about. Then on top of it she put my full name on the dedication page together with three other people and on the acknowledgement page, my blog address! These she did after I told her I wanted nothing to do with the book. Some writers think that getting published and known is the ultimate no matter how. I was told she continues writing about me. I have not really bothered to look or verify because I know she monitors her site meter. She used to complain why I did not visit.

  9. Moving! Interesting about the full name thing. I hadn't given it much thought until now.