Thursday, August 26, 2004

If I were sitting in Le Père Lachaise

           under a fine mossy tree
           Allen Ginsberg: At Apollinaire's Grave

We are two thirds of the way
through the holiday, heading home but still
two thousand kilometres away from it. It is
mid-morning; & I am sitting under a
mango tree in the Home Hill cemetery
being entertained by birds. Black-tailed kites
ride the thermals overhead. Yellow honeyeaters
not much bigger than the flowers they
draw nectar from race through the trees. All sorts
of supporting acts. I have taken advantage of the
break from driving to take care of the basic needs —
a piss, a coffee, several cigarettes. It's an ironic
spot for them, but even though I've made it so
this is not a comfort stop nor are we
playing tourists in this small-town cemetery.
This is where Lauren's grandmother is buried;
& she & her mother have brought
new flowers, old memories to lay on the
grave. I sit watching them, suddenly aware
that I do not know where my
parents are buried. The thought is unemotional,
but trailing it is another more animated one. That
if this were somewhere like Le P ère Lachaise
I would not be sitting, would without doubt
be playing tourist. Rushing here &
there, guidebook in hand, seeking out the graves
of people who are not even distantly related to me
now I know exactly where they are buried. It is more
than I can say about my distant relatives; but then
I have always been one who wept
at the funerals of acquaintances, stayed
dry-eyed at the funerals of family & friends.

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