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My First Funeral My First Funeral
by Ovi Magazine Guest
2020-08-20 08:58:47
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My First Funeral
By Ian C. Smith

When Harry plunged her into a chasm of grief he also said her brother-in-law, who phoned Harry with the news most of us hope never to deliver, wanted me to call him. Her mum had lost weight like an actor rigorously embracing the role of a dying saint, the way we all would if we didn’t eat. I thought this starvation regime a need for attention akin to her religious rapture, something I still believe these years on.

grav01_400Harry and Marcie babysat while we watched a movie. They boasted a phone, many in our poor neighbourhood without. Our names flashed below a gipsy caravan where sexual heat was rising, a regular event at drive-ins, pierced me with a jolt of nervous electricity. That movie was adapted from a story by D.H. Lawrence, a writer, among others, I would come to admire.

My heroes in those days boxers, this brother-in-law and I were as far apart as Earth and the asteroid belt, his father a bank manager, mine a gardener. During our odd conversation he seemed to make slight slips of the tongue, probably thought I never made sense. Trouble with gender pronouns. Turned out her dad had died, not mum. Marcie, agog, calling Harry a fool, my wife’s sobs abated, joy in her eyes at first, guilt lodging in the years ahead for being closer to her mum than her suddenly dead dad.

Still an apprentice of appropriate behaviour, a skill always flunked, I faced the immediate future fraught with duty, a harbinger of misery yet to relay all of the amended news. Her dad, who, never owning a car, walked miles one chilly winter’s evening to give us a tiny portion of his pocket-money when we were struggling, perhaps now weary of his wife’s denials of bedroom advances in favour of conversations with God in her breakaway sect, had hanged himself in their little garden shed. He told me of his frustration in a rare man-to-man moment, honouring wisdom deficient me with this intimate confidence. That drive-in, an eerie memory, has been replaced by a church.


Ian C Smith’s work has been published in Amsterdam Quarterly, Antipodes, BBC Radio 4 Sounds, cordite, The Dalhousie Review, Poetry Salzburg Review, The Stony Thursday Book, & Two-Thirds North.  His seventh book is wonder sadness madness joy, Ginninderra (Port Adelaide).  He writes in the Gippsland Lakes area of Victoria, and on Flinders Island.

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