Cousins’ Last Waltz


We were dancing.

He took the woman’s part,

I the man’s.

I felt indifferent to the dance.


When the music stopped

My hands sagged to my sides.

He said:

“I’ll not dance with you again.”


© Antony Johae



Scenes at a Funeral                                                    



I stood at the gates with red and white roses.

Cars drew up in black.

We walked the green avenue to the grey chapel.




Coffins, flower-covered, rest in alcoves,

names at each base.

There’s a body propped up in a box.

We stand in the cool corridor

with glass between us and the corpse.




In the warm courtyard recognition is delightful,

greeting restrained.

I condole with Hans Bette

– his daughter has died cancer-stricken.

He’s a kind old man whose scientific documents I translate,

and Gustel his talkative spouse, though she’s quiet now.

I greet my Aunt Ria (née Johae), tall Martin Kassel,

Rainer, their crippled son, and his Martine.

There’s Hilda, another Johae, widowed von Meyer

and others I know remotely, their names out of reach.




Chapel doors are closed

coffin on wheels guided by grey-capped men

straight path into an unknown distance

like an  old film announcing “The End.”




We followed the trolley into nature,

saw the coffin

drop out of sight, smelt incense,

heard the priest with his plea

to believe, shovelled earth,

lay roses down to die,

sprinkled water.

Some wept.

A child wept.

The husband’s pain was sharp

turning his inside out to the world.

I wondered at the riddle of it.


© Antony Johae