14 Erstwhile CHRIS WALLACE-CRABBE
Your girlfriend rang me up today,
your former girlfriend,
no, that isn't right,
the present friend of all that once was you,
your fetch or
what remains in the little photographs:
a boy in black-and-white
riding a horse into the scrub
or, freckled, reading out of doors,
both times T-shirted,
your hair a thick, dark bowl-cut,
my erstwhile son.
O yes, she rang today,
had taken somebody out to see your grave
near the forked white trunk,
and we were sad together
on the phone, for a hard while
thinking of you, long gone now. Hence.
Where? Where are you?
In poor fact I can never come to grasp
the meaning of it all, supposing
that to be what religion's all about.
The loss remains behind
like never being well.
from Contemporary Australian Poetry (Houghton Mifflin, 1990), edited by John Leonard.
Used and reprinted by permission.
Click here for a reading by Chris Wallace-Crabbe of John Forbes's "Antipodean Heads," followed by this poem.
Click here for a video of the Melbourne premiere of Leonard Lehrman's setting, Jan. 5, 2002.