Until that point I’d gripped my tears
in plans, constraint and obligation: phone her sister,
comfort her mother, organise a coffin,
get Adrian to play the organ.
Busyness in all its mundanity held me firm.
I’d ask Tony and Fred to speak her life
and I’d read a Shakespeare sonnet:
‘Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?’
The rhetorical question stumbles through my stubble.
My neighbour folds and sends my grey, pin-stripe suit from Wagga.
A class of students rings me in the night
each one stretching word fingers to stroke my ears.
These crowded, jewelled moments buffered out the hospital:
the transfusions, the charts, the drugs – and her loss of dexterity,
the changes to her body, hair and skin –
moved back a few stops behind the organ’s bars
as family, friends and colleagues filed into the chapel.
But then my waters broke, and for a moment
the helplessness of bountiful grief,
wordless, racking, unanswerable,
washed over me.