The wailings rise and ebb,
as the mourners file unevenly past the coffin;
(men first, and then the women and children).
The polished wooden box
upon which they lovingly drape themselves,
is painted as a flag;
red, yellow and black,
as befits the proud Warlpiri elder.
Underpinning the plaintive howls,
a battered keyboard supplies a sequence of chords,
giving shape to the primal plainsong’s
Fifteen metres above,
a tall and straggly eucalypt
offers patchy shade to the mourners.
As the sorry-songs continue,
the local flock of galahs makes a noisy entrance
to assume its accustomed place in the branches.
The birds add their cries to proceedings;
on two occasions taking flight
and wheeling about
in a screeching pink and grey salute.
At an appropriate time, concluding
that their work here is complete.
they make a respectful departure.
© Ken Rookes 2013