About this blog

My only daughter's name is Clea. Clea was six years and nine months old and she was enjoying a family holiday in Samoa when the ocean surged as a wall, ten metres high, and drowned her. Many other people died that morning of 29 September 2009.
The other four members of her family survived the tsunami.
Life has never been the same since. It will never be the same. This blog features memories, reflections, poetry, etc...
Just let me stay with her under this moon,
hold her in my arms, spin her in the air,
with my dear daughter in some timeless swoon.

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

In the garage: A sonnet

In the garage

Tedious tasks bring these days brushes with sighs.
On each item a leaden shadow lurks
heavy, the air hints a frown as pain works
its ruthless certitude before his eyes.

Her pink bicycle, her scooter, her kite:
they’re but musings, shades of days masked by time
and sorrow, echoes of giggles, the rhyme
of memory; the grief he could recite.

Outside the winter rain pummels the pane.
The cruel void crunches and batters his heart;
a dense spectre of sadness hounds his brain.

Thus he retreats into this shrouded art.
The disguise beneath numb words keeps him sane.
For months ago her death tore him apart.

I wrote this sonnet in the early spring of 2010, and sent it to a local poetry competition; to the judges, it must have been a fairly unremarkable poem. And that’s fair enough, I must add.

With poetry, what some believe wonderful is rather unexceptional to others. Poetry is a very personal experience, for both the composer and the reader. At the time, I thought it was very fine poem: it tells a story – a father doing his everyday chores in the family garage – and describes the sort of thoughts and feelings grief prompts in the bereaved.

I still think this is quite an expressive sonnet. Poetry – or literature in general – affords me a space where I can express myself in words, rather than in tears. Tears are more visible, but they vanish once they stop flowing. Words remain, and may reach out to others in ways we do not fully comprehend.

The poem was inspired by the sight of Clea’s bicycle, abandoned in the garage. Only a Samoan girl, who happens to be from a village (Lepa) which is not far from where Clea drowned, has since ridden the bike. She was a member of the taekwondo team that visited Canberra two years ago; we invited them for a barbeque the night before they returned back to Apia. They all had a good time, playing table football (I beat them all, of course!).

Clea’s bike was a find. The bicycle had been left under a tree near outside a church where I used to park the car on my way to work. It wasn’t new, but Clea did not mind. Side wheels were duly attached to it for safety, and she was soon pedalling up and down the flat driveway of our home in Yass. Eventually she mastered the cycling and the little wheels were discarded.

Her scooter was a present she got from my mother during her visit in 2008. It had to be pink, of course. Clea was so excited about having her own scooter! It was something she truly enjoyed.

We used to go for rides around the neighbourhood, on bikes and scooters. For a fairly long time after Clea’s death, we stopped doing that. Her bicycle remains in the garage. The tyres are flat. A thick film of dust is slowly gathering on the seat and the handlebar.

Someone said to my wife the other day that three years have gone fast. I was baffled. Well, I say, it’s all relative, isn’t it? For me, some days feel like an intolerable eternity. Talk about time passing fast...

The passage of time does not - it will not - bring our child back; time does not fill the void, nor does it attenuate the pain.

There is always the poetry, though.

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