Dilectus (Carly-Jay Metcalfe)

And so, it is weeks now.
Not a year, not months; the anticipation of chemotherapy expired.
Just the work of grief, the clipping of loose ends,
the tucking under of seams, weaving
them in until the blanket is threadbare, ready
for when your nephews have children of their own.

There is no fairness in this — we knew it from the outset.
And you with your red lipstick asking, ‘Have I done enough?’
You did it all by waking up as I waited
in stillness under a blanket of cicadas,
my head thicker with memory than I bargained for,
waiting for the rivers of thought to calm.

I’m supposed to be good at this —  
the sick, the dying, the grief;
the scaffold of life being torn down.
Yet I feel vastly underqualified, heaving
with it all, splitting open like a banksia pod.

Just now, a rainbow lorikeet lands in the Chinese elm
and it is as though you are here but already gone.
The bird hangs from a branch, bark tight with lichen.
It rebalances, drops down to the bird bath and sips delicately,
it’s teal head glinting in the autumn sun.

I catch the wind on my tongue, see the hibiscus still blooming.
I memorise you, singing you home with a hymn to all things lost.


Carly-Jay Metcalfe is a writer of memoir, fiction and poetry. She lives in northern New South Wales with her beloved pup Billie and is currently wrapping up her memoir ‘Breath’.