December 2007 - January 2008

Arts & Letters

Genealogy

By Craig Sherborne

I’ll be dead and then they’ll go through my things,

the weak son who never complained when I mocked him,

the daughter who wished me dead I’m sure

so she wouldn’t have to nurse me.

I refuse to cut a spare set of keys.

I refuse to risk their snooping.

 

I hear them mutter about what part of me to pawn,

how their mother’s jewellery made for better treasures.

My watch is a gold watch though its fingers stopped counting.

Perhaps my childhood sports trophies can be Silvoed.

Books brown with damp-smell can be piled up for burning.

Only a few should go to the church bin with my bed.

 

The spell I’ve had over them is my Last Will and Testament,

a brute strength that never needs to raise its hand:

it’s a threat as light as paper. “We hope you live forever,” they say.

But I’m not blind. I see them sighing.

Years ago I told the same lie as them:

How bereft I’d be, a kind of orphan.

I was, after all, myself once offspring;

I cried the same as they’ll pretend to.

 

Soon enough they’ll shop in my rooms, my drawers,

choose furniture, photos, this painting, that vase,

shooing their own kids to play out on the lawn rather than poke around

in what’s none of their business, nor overhear while the real-estate agent

visits for a cup of coffee and a talk.

Craig Sherborne

Craig Sherborne is the author of the highly acclaimed memoir Hoi Polloi, and its sequel Muck, which won the Queensland Literary Award for Non-Fiction. He has written two volumes of poetry, Bullion and Necessary Evil, and two novels, The Amateur Science of Love and Tree Palace.

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