Michael Witts: ‘Spring Funeral’ and ‘Hilda at Braidwood’

Spring Funeral

a good day for burying Irish Poets
you might have noted
mis-quoting Auden on Yeats in 1939
a nod to your father’s lineage
on a bitter day in Sydney
like another day in Bogside

the priest in vestments and lace
the colour of jacarandas outside
enveloped in incense and aftershave
intones of someone he never met
of facts asserted in expectation and hope
of a life well lived to the captive audience

not that you believed in life
or until the end became inevitable
we were altar boys together
roaming the dark sacristy in search
of altar wine to thieve
such was the extent of our vocation

out into the light
solicitude to widow and children
what your life became
beyond our meeting on the first day of school
lives entwined then all that came between us
to bury our friendship

Michael Witts


Hilda at Braidwood
For Stephen and Natalie

she squats at the paddock fence
coiled like that spring gate
sensing roos beyond the fenceline
smelt but as yet unseen
waiting for you to release her
with the start of your daily walk

bounds through long wet grass
huntress unleashed
to her own pursuits
long past your whistles and calls
she returns drool like frogspawn
on her flanks and chops

and life is wonderful
her time to sleep beside the fire
mist rising from her hide
the pungent smell of dog
her fur flecked with rubies
drying jewels of blood

Michael Witts


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