care of the river

care of the river
                          january 2018, whanganui
to my paternal grandmother Edith Lilian Bagge nee Von Sturmer, died 13 June 1923, buried Aromoho Cemetry, Whanganui

Lillian Von Sturmer
Edith Lillian Bagge (Von Sturmer) (1872 – 1923), from the family photo.

you rest
over the road
from the river
at least
your name rests
there the simplest
telling of any life
the name we sign
the best the worst
of our doings with
right to that final
peace of stone

in looking for
your plot
you turned my head
firmly towards the place
i didn’t even have to
count along the row
it was almost evening
and you rained a little
as i stepped up to
your grave and read
the starkest ending
of any life
its date
recalled the family
mystery i never paid
heed to until this
lateness of day under
cloud, that the day
after you left this
sea and river town
my mother was born
the woman whom
one of your sons
would take as wife
an arrangement
so neat in its way
a dovetail joint
in time no fuss at all
just like this evening
and the simple telling
of the stone
just like
i imagine
you wanted life:
no fuss

we leave you
in keep of the river
that took your pain
your resigned silences
all those years ago

i shall write you
again care of
the river

Copyright © 2018 Peter Le Baige.  All Rights Reserved.

The music is from a recording of Zoltán Kodály’s ‘Adagio for viola and piano’ (1905) by Nobuko Imai on viola & Roland Pöntinen on piano.

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