Saturday, July 2, 2011

Grace

Grace said ‘Mum, it’s time to let me go’, and
Scratched the plastic mask aside
So I could kiss her one last time
Before her eyelids hid the light in her eyes.


In the 426 days since diagnosis,
My Grace treated life as an unexpected guest
And death as an invisible friend.
Time was Santa’s sack packed with moments
Gift-wrapped with smiles and hugs you’d wish would never end.


Entering her room was like walking out to a Spring morning.
Her face was the sun, her voice birdsong,
Filtering the air so every sound you heard there,
Both good news and bad, had dawn’s clarity.


Grace had gravity. People circled her like moons,
Like buttercups, their chins held up,
Their faces raised to her beams.


Paperchain folk danced a ring around her room,
Each silhouette representing someone Grace had met,
Each marked in her hand with a blue felt pen:


Daniel, good dancer;
Dr Wong, big smile, crooked tie;
Mr Mason, call me Steve, always jeans with thongs,
Delta Goodrem, exclamation mark, beautiful,
And in brackets, soppy songs.


Grace’s brother Samuel, had a special cut:
Arms a little wider, edged in highlighter, and, on the back:
Don’t tell him, but I love him this much.


Grace was young enough to want to be read to sleep,
But old enough to reject fairy tales.


As she lost her curls, she did not set her sails
With the pirate bandana crew – Grace was a ninja girl.
A ninja can’t be seen or heard, but you know she’s always there,
Watching over you from afar, and with a well-thrown star,
Will destroy that shadow creeping up on you.


Grace said she could tell I was afraid of the dark,
So she let me lie in her bed,
Where she’d show me the stars in the shape of a ninja
Through the window before she lay down her head.


While Grace’s graying marrow was narrowing inside,
Her eyes stayed as clear as telescope glass
No sign of the ashes smoking behind,
Her pale skin as smooth as the still sea’s face
Open wide to the moon’s cool light.






14 days after she turned eleven,
Grace said ‘Mum, it’s time to let me go’, and
Scratched the plastic mask aside
So I could kiss her one last time
Before her eyelids hid that light in her eyes.


Now I spend my nights staring at the ninja constellation,
Catching falling stars in the corner of my eyes,
My heart as empty
And as full
As the night sky.

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