Poem – Heather McPherson

At Rangiora’s Ashley Street Cemetery


This graveyard’s a bit like the one 
where we buried my mum and dad. Oldish, 
a small town Anglican acreage … ours 
used to seem huge. But after farms on the state 
house outskirts got bulldozed and suburbs 
blew round and past it and the dead
had fewer advocates than the living, it got cut. 
Rows of empty plots were sold. Ownership 
flats rub feet with wards of the undisturbed. 
Once sited near the centre, my parents 
lie hard against the hedge; retiree units 
buffer the separate churches’ blocks. 
But my mum would have loved the tree 
thickening leafily above her, the moving seasons. 
She wouldn’t mind the bird droppings 
and twigs, nor the oldies pottering in handkerchief
sized backyards behind the fence. Other 
burial grounds get dug up for motorways. 
O Goddess, may all the parents’ graves, 
as this poet’s – for whom we 
companions make this pilgrimage – stay 
at least as long as our coloured life-lines 
keep weaving together 
new and surprising waves …


Heather McPherson

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