Dirge – Jackson McCarthy

By August 11, 2021 August 25th, 2021 2021 runner up


For Ngaire McCarthy

Nandos, like the chicken restaurant, is what I called my nana
Who stood at Poppa’s grave next to me but turned to the side
Looking so staunch and serious, chin and neck and moko kauae
Like a cardboard cutout against the tense blue sky
The universe wrapped its arms around her
Whispering in her ear, telling her secrets
She knew everything before we did
Like at that moment she saw
The next few months of her life laid out before her
Saw doorways and hospital beds
And knew that when all was said and done
We’d be back at work chopping beans and baking pastries
This is how we honour our dead
We do not mention flesh; no pink, no grey
But turn toward the stars as if she’ll be rocketed up there amongst them
Kia ora, somehow crying sounds like laughing
Kia ora, somehow I am singing before there are words
Into the skies
Of Matariki.


Jackson McCarthy
Year 12
St Peter’s College



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