Ernie Malvern

To chew on grass in the sunshine. To
lick at the yolks of eggs, or bright &
fern-dappled sunlight out in the yard.
The trees crack like whips & faraway
the southerly, the change comes. It’s
worst at night, beneath the porch, as
the spin dryer hums & the gums drop
leaves that flick at my ears before I

fall asleep in shadows on the ground.
It never hums. Its sound comes from
beneath my paws as the storm’s full
force fires a pot plant straight across
the concrete at me as I shiver now &
then though rarely at strangers (who
never come & certainly not on nights
such as this one, maniacal, seething.

They’ll bury me beside the creek. In
front of the heaving children & them,
some summer day, but not this one,
deep in the sloping backyard, down by
the back fence built to shield us once
from strange events. In any case, it’s
over. Then I’m underground. My bones
the first of a now-suburban dead. With

silhouettes they form a circle round
the small pile of dirt on the ground &
say nothing, the roar of the water the
hill just a distant hum, they way that I
remembered it, that night, when the
change came over him & he looked at
her and she said nothing & so in the end
nobody watched when he softly buried

my stiffened form. Ernie’s freezing.
That’s what she was thinking. He must be
cold. Betty, do what you’re told. A flower
she had brought she’s tucking behind my
ear, perhaps something she learnt in high
school this year. Too late for me, though I
rarely read, preferring instead to roll in the
grass and chomp on weeds & in my sleep,

the summer rains will hug me, keep on
rolling in like that geat southerly swell, as
I remembered it on Port Kembla beach in
the rain & the bobbing gulls as I ran head-
on down the hard orange sands, each stride
a little wheel of spinning sand in my wake.
The water itself, being death, was harder to
bear. She made me wear things that kept

my little bones warm. A candle is lit in
a tin that once held tomatoes. Someone
sniffs. The change when it hits the extinct
volcanoes triggers every gum to hit a high
C, bursting into stormsongs & everybody
hits the ground. Something comes hurtling
down the side of a mountain, into the arms
of American Creek. The wet candle is re-lit

and stuck into the ground. It goes out.
There’s something about the emergency of
it all, the bewilderment & alarm. Still, it’s
warm down here, & hardly ever wet. Each
day she brings another clump of weeds to
my grave, hoping somehow I’ll smell their
dreamy damp & dig myself out from this
hole in the ground, all by my little old self.

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