States of Poetry 2016 - Western Australia | 'Anniversary' by Barbara Temperton

We've been in mourning just over a year,
or just under, depending on the date we're marking.
Not always celebrations, anniversaries
have a way of keeping their appointments:
they're ticked off at the level of the body
and brain, our biochemical wakes.

I've felt strange all week, sick and sleep-obsessed,
a willed agoraphobic. Show me the cave
I need to crawl into and I'll be there.

No headline-making bereavement here,
just the absence of two small dogs,
their apparitions appearing to join me in my chair.
This evening, with fever, I made room for shades
and only then did I mark the date,
our two dogs dead twelve weeks apart, a year ago.

Their anniversary arrived like a virus
assaulting the muscles of my heart
in a darkened room.

 

Barbara Temperton

Recording

Previously published in The Weekend Australian, 18-19 May 2013.