Has the man next door
buried his wife in the garden?
she doesn't whistle the hits of the 40s
anymore at the kitchen window
I can't even see her shadow against the blind
there is something ominous about that silent window
the immaculate garden shaved and vacuumed
within an inch of its life

perhaps she has left him
or died in the local hospital
I never heard her speak
or saw her walking
only her voice in the still air
like a bird caught in a cage
trilling to be let out

how he must have hated that whistle
enough to strangle her
choked off in mid-note
their shadows wrestling silently
against the venetian blind
if he dug her grave at midnight
the spade would scrape
on the sandstone bottom
if he planted a rose over her
red as blood it would flourish

whatever method was used
she has gone at last
freed from her pottering lord
shaking his fist at the currawong's whistle
as he savagely hacks off the roses.

Every autumn the leaves fall
and the fog forms a curtain
to smother our secret lives.

--- From Halfway up the Mountain
Dorothy Hewett
Fremantle Arts Centre Press
(Distributed by Penguin)

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