From the 1960s to the early 80s,
30,000 babies who were stillborn or died shortly after birth
in South Australia, were buried in unmarked graves.
A memorial at West Terrace Cemetery, dedicated in 1996,
acknowledges these precious lives and their passing,
allowing families a place to rest their grief.
My sleeping baby brother
won’t you wake, won’t you wake?
adrift of any tree,
our mother’s branched fingers
forced to release.
You demanded wings,
my sibling rivalry wants to rip them off,
the mother in me longs to cradle,
the sister in me begs to play,
won’t you shed your peace and scuffle?
See? Our father’s ship
Shall we raise and sail the vessel,
fearless pirates, you and I?
in etched bronze.
Linda Kohler’s poetry has been published in Tamba, Poetrix, the Wakefield Press anthology Tadpoles in the Torrens and various other publications. She has been a highly commended applicant for the Australian Society of Authors Poetry Mentorship Program, a waitress, television scriptwriter, proofreader and teacher. She takes her inspiration from the natural world and the beauty of the human spirit. Today’s poem was written in memory of her younger brother who died just hours after birth in the 1970s, and as her poem says, like other babies in South Australia of that era was buried in an unmarked grave in West Terrace Cemetery.
Readers’ original and unpublished poems of up to 40 lines can be emailed, with postal address, to firstname.lastname@example.org. Submissions should be in the body of the email, not as attachments. A poetry book will be awarded to each accepted contributor.
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