the last illness comes and she
takes to bed, largest. The only
one with lungs still breathing
in their sequence, like birth spaces,
dead, bones striving for equality
reaching dust as if a race and tape
she will have to cross alone
or a door with the handle too high
tiptoeing to reach the windowsill
but not out. Until then
she holds them as an hourglass
holds sand and a rose holds scent.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Elizabeth Smither’s latest collections of poetry are The Year of Adverbs (AUP, 2007) and Horse Playing the Accordion (ahadada books, 2007). A new collection of stories, The Girl Who Proposed, will be published by Cape Catley in 2008.
The last of her Australian aunts, from a family of twelve, died early this year. She was the youngest, the one they regarded affectionately, since she was always following them about, as ‘the nuisance’. In this poem, Elizabeth was imagining her death, her siblings who had gone before, and her going on her own.