'A Salutation' by Adrian Caesar | States of Poetry ACT - Series One

Some months after the funeral,
checking emails from the other hemisphere,
there's one from Pauline; subject: Hell.
It's not promising. My mind traverses
the last five years, their litany of loss –
a son, two friends and mentors,
then you, lovely sister, and like some grim
comedic postscript even Frankie
the cat succumbed. Suffice to say
I am well acquainted with grief.
So on a bright morning of frost sparkle
and sunshine I don't want more bad news.
Through the window I watch parrots cavort
hunger's casual gymnasts in the trees
squawking over breakfast to celebrate
the playful day. Coraggio my own word
to you dying limps back to me
battered and bruised; I open the message
from your friend. It speaks of planting
wild primroses on your grave
and how the site at Barton Glebe
is bright with daisies and dandelions
peaceful as ever. There is talk
of daily things and at the last:
Tell Claire K's rose is blooming.
As I felt the familiar watering begin,
I realised the typo in the subject bar:
Hello it should have said. And saw how that
single 'o' could hold at once the meaning
of love perfected or the blank of absence
the nothing of death we try to fill with heaven.
And in my mind against the parrot's raucous din
as if to reassure I should dwell on more than zero
I swear I heard your voice make greeting.

Adrian Caesar

Adrian Caesar

Adrian Caesar

Adrian Caesar was born and educated in England, but has lived and worked in Australia for more than thirty years. He is the author of three books of literary and cultural criticism and an experimental 'non-fiction novel', The White, which won the Victorian Premier's Award for Non-Fiction in 2000 and the ACT Book of the Year in 2000. His novel, The Blessing, was published by Arcadia in 2015. He has also published five books of poetry, the latest of which is, Dark Cupboards New Rooms (Shoestring Press, 2014). High Wire (2005) was shortlisted for the Judith Wright Prize in 2007. His work has recently featured in The Best Australian Poems 2014 and Dazzled – an anthology of poems long-listed for the inaugural University of Canberra's Vice Chancellor's International Poetry Prize.