From Recessional by Harvey McQueen

The Pensioner

A whiff of treachery, the body's reluctance
to get out of bed in the morning. There is
reason to feel nervous about the outcome.

Not death, that is certain, but the trip to it.
Even cautious encouragement, the promise of
bacon and creamed mushroom on toast,

takes time to override its resistance. Recall
misty autumn mornings out early with bucket
& knife, picking field mushrooms, & the awe

at rings - fairies don't exist, they said - but still ...
the sun a pale corona through the fog. The jaunt
through the asphalt world did have its moments,

exotic brilliances & conspiracy corridors, but
finally, feet, seizing the opportunity while
the mind is woolgathering, swing over & out.

Lights, camera, we have action. Trousers, etc.
It's the loss of poise that irritates. Against that,
all that bother about face is no longer of concern.

Little River Cemetery

If sparrows were rare they'd be considered
beautiful. One squats on my father's tombstone.
Mum totters towards it. "Thanks for bringing
me, I wanted to see it one last time." I censor
the 'nonsense' in my throat into a cough.
Beside it the graves of his parents, close by
Mum's parents, assorted aunts, uncles
& cousins, & others, many well-known
when I was a boy. Leaning on an old stone
for support Mum peers at the words. "He
lived to a ripe old age. Always a lazy bugger."
The hills of Little River stand sentinel
as they did in my youth. This morning
Columbia disintegrated re-entering
the earth's atmosphere, a spectacular
& public death for the crew. A beautiful
& peaceful day here as they search the
Texan landscape for debris. Every death
ends a unique combination of circumstances,
prejudices, embraces & experiences. Never
repeated. How many times has that thought
flashed through a conscious mind on this
restful knoll? Spying a hen in the dust, the sparrow
darts down to mate with her, a rowdy process.

©Harvey McQueen