Evelyn Rourke 1903-1992


Dunedin graveside

“Dearly loved Mother … forever in our thoughts”
do not think I would have feared to say
the words I dared not speak a century’s third away
had you not fled beyond my reach this time.
Words on a plaque read through sadness’ rain,
words in my mind that have no place to fall
but in my heart, the saddest place of all,
wanting you to know this time I cared for you.
Knowing I played with the past’s old bones too long
turning those sad old days into a song
that I can chant beside this dusty bed
knowing I am safe and you are dead.

Mother take me in your ashen arms
lullaby me with that sad old tune
all forgotten over distant years
not knowing life was precious, death too soon.
Smile again like once you used to do
somewhere among sea foam or cloud swept sky
let me hear your voice in soft breeze sigh,
help me this once to understand, to hold your hand:
for I have genes like yours inside of me
trembling with the bitter taste of time
drifting with the pain of wasted years
and all the salt of anger in my tears.

What of the child you bore who died so young
has he no place on this tiny plaque?
More right than I who died inside for you.
What of the men you loved and hated,
have they no place on this gravestoned hill
had they no place in your epitaph to fill?
What of the grandchildren that you also loved,
their children too could fill this empty space;
and the friend you kept from childhood to this day
despite the miles that kept her far away?
Your mother and father gone so long before,
are they not part of this, no part of you.

Those who gave you love should share this space
garland it with bright memorial flowers
dance with the sun through all the sunset hours
and sleep in the soft dry sand beside your heart.
I gave you nothing but a hapless child
that drained you like the sun has drained this hill,
gave little back but took your stubborn will
just as your strength was pouring slowly back.
“Forever in our thoughts.” That much is true.
Wherever I may tread, I tread with you,
whatever joy I have, whatever dread,
my mind embraces you … until I too am dead?


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