After my mother passed away, freed from her suffering, the house
felt empty, and the sea, churning waves, glanced up to hill’s crest.
My brother tried to strangle me but a neighbour saw it happen.
He gave a warning about calling the police. I was able to enter
with a wreath of lilies and roses freshly arranged. In the scuffle
three of the lilies had been torn from their stems. They lay strewn
on the lawn like annotations where my brother had thrown me.
The dark pollen swimming in skirts, cold and stunning was pristine
as the stopped flux of her jugular vein. I cleaned the spittle
bubbling from the side of her mouth, I cleaned her nostrils, pressed
shut her eyes, clipped her nails. We washed her body, turned
from side to side. By now plasma and gravity had left a horizontal stain
on her recumbent spine and her feet. My throat is sore and my wrist
where my brother grabbed me; my upper arm burns from his grasp.
In my brother’s delusion, I was the one who killed my mother.
I drove out to the cemetery
overlooking the sea where she would be laid to rest. It felt tranquil,
circled by eucalypt trees. I felt the gravel turn under the tyres of my car.
A light breeze fingered onshore across the valley, briny and fragrant.
In this world we are gardeners, preserving the garlands. I wanted to cry
but could not. Even to this day I am choking, and I have not wept.
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