The Weeping Myall
To taste the morning dew from the weeping myall wets my tongue with the smoky taste of tobacco
My mouth is no longer dry with early waking slumber
The magpies’ morning song breaks the night’s silence
An opera of duets and sonata from native birdlife welcomes the dawn
My body burns with light and heat
The mobile phone sings with an electronic beat
I anxiously wait for work
Outside, this is a foreign place of southern heat
What is this place?
What is a wattle?
What is a banksia?
What is a salt bush?
Not much deciduous around here
The Australian voice is dry and monotone and at times so silent
It sings of the wattle and gum tree with a nostalgic past of a hero’s journey to settle the bush
If settlers had mobile phones, would the swagman tell stories?
Possums dance across these odd shaped trees with their hanging branches billowing under the hot sun and bending and swaying in the dry wind
I long for the oak and heather
I long for the robin singing in the hedge
I long for the soft landscape of green and yellow fieldsMy yearning for home is strong
My granny lay before me in the dark living room as mourners passed in and out of her house. She lay in a coffin in the middle of the room in her Sunday best as the front door opened to the terrace and people came and went. Some spoke and some didn’t while paying their respects.
“Una was always shining the brasso” was a memory shared. My granny was always talking and chatting to the neighbours. Her favourite song was a republican song. “The Echo of the Thompsons GUN”. Her piano was in the corner and I remembered how she used to keep her dole hidden upon the black and white keys and in large bulk. She never knew what to do with it. What do you do with money if you never had any before?
The piss up just started as people spoke and women were running around with sandwiches, cakes, tea and whiskey “to calm your nerves”.
My uncle fell outside the door as his wife shook, marriage splitting up as the matriarch and family hierarchy started to break. I had never seen my uncle cry as he held onto the front terrace railing. His face was worn from drink and sorrow. He actually seemed human for once.
She didn’t look like granny any more. She looked like someone else. I was glad she was gone. She was starting to go anyway and she wasn’t like granny.
We bury in 3 days.
At night, people would sit around and each would have a memory.
I stared at my Granny’s body trying to determine if that was really her. Her body had shrunk as if returning to childhood. The mourning had started as people wore black and spoke hushly around the body. Traditional weaning had passed and the occasional soft cry and memories shared were common place.
My auntie dressed her body in a special dress.
I returned the next day for the funeral.
My family carried her through the terrace and up the lane to Westlandrow.
Her small terrace surrounded by new apartments and buildings now as Dublin progressed into the 20th century and EU.
They carried Una up that lane where she walked everyday to mass up and down, rain or sun since she was a child.
That was her song.