This page is a memorial to my gorgeous daughter, Miranda, (6 October 1988 – 13 October 2006). Miranda was born in Hobart and died in a vehicle accident in the south west of Western Australia, a week after her eighteenth birthday.
Miranda was mischievous, free-spirited, generous, imaginitive, athletic, social and caring. She loved bushwalking and otherwise exploring wild places in Tasmania and Western Australia, and was considering a career as an outdoor adventure guide.
She adored, and was adored by her family, including her dozens of cousins, and her multitude of friends in Tasmania and Western Australia.
She attended Princes Street and Albeura St primary schools and Ogilvie High School in Hobart, and Shenton College in Perth, WA.
Miranda has been the inspiration behind many of my children’s books, but in particular, The Crown and Gown (at the age of four she wanted to be a princess, but was frustrated that her hair wouldn’t grow long enough to put into long princess plaits) and The Sky Dreamer, a picture book about childhood grief.
LEARNING TO LOVE FRAGMENTS
For twenty months now,
each day has been an island
borne away to the void by the grizzled surf of night.
On sunny days I hear echoes
of you and your brother playing in the sand dunes.
They say this beach is a healing place.
I sit in my hermitage writing up a sea mist,
and when I climb the stile to Great Oyster Bay,
I find the beach occluded.
I have begun to think magically, writing back to the day
when I should have rung your mobile
to ask how are you were going.
Found work yet?
Where are you staying?
Love you, honey,
and clicked off.
A few trite sentences, a few seconds delay
and you would not have been in that place
at that exact time.
The truck would have passed safely.
I walk the beach with downcast eyes,
remembering the cowrie you held triumphantly aloft,
then showed me spottings of brown on its white edging.
You knew the value of the world’s first currency
long before I did.
I used to wonder if you’d been here before.
Now I wish I’d learned more from you.
I look for cowries where you discovered yours,
in loose white sand where the sea bursts
through the narrow channel and pools in the lagoon.
Often I see bones, their marrow bleached to lace work,
their decay transformed to beauty
by sun and saltwater, by wind and time.
Sometimes I collect chiton shells.
Awed by their jungle mask patterns,
I take them home to my window shelf,
but their power soon blanches,
reminding me to leave your memory on the beach,
glistening in the retreating tide.
I stoop to inspect fans of doughboy scallops,
and marvel at their vibrant colours
and the way that a fractal fan angles out
from the parent’s hinges.
Their whole and the part are equal casualties
to the remorseless of tide and time.
Once I stooped only to perfection,
these days I am learning to love fragments.
Cutaways of whelk and turban shell,
their exposed spirals drilling down
to wherever it is that you are now.
Your childhood, which barely breached
The cusp of adulthood,
has now become your whole.
I see you in the quarter moon,
your unlived life as unlit lunar territory
which is as present as your absence.
I hear your joy in a shard of abalone shell
upturned to the nacreous sunset,
although its jagged edges cut and wound.
I feel you as a phantom limb,
a lopped branch on my family tree
that aches and creaks in frosty shadows.
They say this is a healing beach,
and as the grizzled surf of night
bears each day away to the void,
I hold the fragment of your life in mine
honouring your spirit,
the sweet mischief of a ragged smile.