Photograph by Tori Lill
Photograph by Tori Lill

Death was tube of flesh into which my grandmother forced tiny triangles of vegemite sandwiches. He was missing part of his nose, he wore a plaid flat cap. Grandpa had been fading since I was ten, now he is a splodge on a reclining chair—not scary anymore, but saggy and the colour of the grey bit of a boiled egg. Nan jams his mouth full of sloppy orange wedges, I open my laptop to start watching The Bachelorette. The woman is serious, she says ‘commitment’ so the men don lemon yellow life vests and jump off a cliff. I mop juice from the creases on his cheek. We stare at the Herald then a crossword, we stare at a pot plant, a puzzle, we stare at the TV. Death and I sit there for hours while Nanna comments on the décor, she asks, ‘What, colour are those curtains Holly? They’re just lovely, really brighten up the room, just lovely don’t you think Holly?’ ‘Yes. Lovely, I think they’re beige’, I think I should fashion them into a noose. Before Grandpa turned into a flesh-tube he returned to a backyard in Blacktown, where are his pigeons and why don’t they come back? Who is Nancy and where is his young wife? He looks to me, I look at my computer; the video stream stutters, then stops and my curser turns into a spinning rainbow pinwheel. Nanna clasped his hand and it looked like a clump of parsnips, I should have touched it, I should have held them. Grandpa dribbled so I tied a hanky round his throat for a bib, it was too tight and he choked a little, his skin was so delicate. I untied the white material and tried again: one corner folds, folding, folded over senility to touch the other, which I see now, must have been youth.



About Holly Isemonger 6 Articles
HOLLY ISEMONGER was the joint winner of the 2016 Overland Judith Wright Poetry Prize. She is the author of the chapbooks Hip Shifts (If A Leaf Falls Press) and Deluxe Paperweight (Stale Objects dePress). She co-edited Cordite Poetry Review’s DIFFICULT issue and can be found at @Hisemonger on Twitter.