Andrew Jackson


9/10/1973, M3

You’ve held your bunch of questions like a wreath
for long enough. You want the silent answers
only a still-absent father can give, so
you make the call to the Cemetery Trust.

You get the date and the approximate place,
which is more than you’ve ever had before,
so you walk cautiously optimistic
through gates that couldn’t care less
how magnified everything seems here and now.

Closing in on him, you squint and sweat
and remove another layer,
scan the crunch of dry earth
for sympathy in the sound,
some hint at how you’ll feel
when you’re finally face-to-stone

though you know every echo is open to interpretation.

You reach his section and it’s even more
barren than the rest – so many unmarked plots –
         small deserts, no oases.

The gardeners drive past
         trailing boredom and dust.

You walk around for a while
         until it sinks in. You are

one more solitary sigh in a crowd of upper-case names
which never asked to be placed in that position.

Did you really expect your minute grief
could guide you through these worn-down aisles,
bring back to your hands a name which isn’t here?

It huddles instead in the breeze which echoes
in the curves of your ears. It is happily trapped
in an absence which reveals as much

of what the grave knows as that magpie
calmly eyeing you from its temporary perch
on another mute monument.



Andy Jackson is 34, physically unusual due to Marfan Syndrome, and a writer of poetry, prose and reviews, most recently published in Real Time, Sleepers Almanac, Space New Writing, and The Ardent Sun, and on-line in hutt, Cordite and Big Bridge. His most recent collection of poetry is Aperture, which includes a CD of collaborations with musicians. He is currently working on another with a grant from the Australia Council, loosely themed around how identity is experienced and unsettled through the body and how exceptions question the rule. He can be virtually contacted via, but he lives in Melbourne. Of the present poem, Jackson writes: “9/10/1973 M3 is, among other things, a poem about my relationship with my father. He died on that date, when I was 2 years old - I have no memories of him. A while ago, I decided to visit his grave. It proved to be difficult, but not in the way I expected. Given the general area, M3, I still couldn’t find it. We often think that we have a profound spiritual connection with those who have died. This may be true. But it is also true that, to quote myself from a similar poem, ‘each life will make its sense with absence as much as fact’. Oh, and it’s written in the second person because it’s about you.”