Peter Kirkpatrick


Dress Rehearsal

Seeking my best-liked students in the mass
of academic gowns and relatives
disported into smiling photo ops,
I find myself unrecognised by all
but startled children on the edge of tears
or a stray grandparent, scowling at my tie.
Best abandon simpering at strangers;
Darth Vader would be far more popular.

Is this what death is like, dressed in a robe
for some outlandish ritual in some
unworldly place where nobody will know
me from a ghost? Dodging a sense of closure
I leave the send-off wrapped in my own shadow,
and go back to those books nobody reads.



Peter Kirkpatrick is a poet and academic, and teaches Australian Literature in the Department of English at the University of Sydney. He has published two collections, Wish You Were Here (Five Islands, 1996) and Westering (Puncher & Wattmann, 2006), and the chapbook Australian Gothic and Other Poems (Picaro, 2012). Kirkpatrick notes: “‘Dress Rehearsal’ is from a series of poems on academic life titled ‘Versities’.”