The Order Of Things

The Rev. Canon Dr. James M. McPherson

12 October 2012


 Jack, eighteen

died on his motorbike


the Ugly Sister

expert in camouflage

and ambuscade


after the funeral

Lenny in the corner

absent in his grief

chain-smoking with his beer

Joyce and the girls

on the veranda

with Chateau Cardboard

watching the earth-shadow

deepen into the velvet outback night

and timeless stars


it breaks the order of things

for parent to bury child


the order:

grandmother die

mother die

daughter die





another fifteen years:

Lenny’s “accident”


when Joyce rallied

she summoned the girls to plan

how to hold the hectares together

and divide them after she died


death sweeps the old away

to make room for the new


running the property single-handed

in the Big Dry

for pity taking the rifle


to the gaunt and hopeless stock


it’s the order of things

droughts come and go

if you break first

you lose





she was ready, her bags packed

long before

protesting fiercely

ambulanced into the town’s “hospital”


where the girls gathered powerless

at the palliative bedside


only my enemies should suffer like this


praying for her release

as if to break the Big Dry


but the Ugly Sister

owes no favours

and kept her




© 2010

the Revd James M McPherson


Maryborough Qld


St Francis famously (and rightly) refered to Death as "Sister Death". Experience shows she can be an ugly sister sometimes, or welcome, or beautiful, which I have explored in several poems. This one dates from 2010.