A grove of olives

Featured in

  • Published 20101025
  • ISBN: 9781921656187
  • Extent: 264 pp
  • Paperback (234 x 153mm), eBook

ONCE I HAD to bury a cat. She was a beautiful cat, lithe of limb, delicate, a great leaper. Slender and brown, a long-legged, silky-furred Burmese. She was called Dido, for reasons important at the time. When my neighbour knocked on the door and said, There is a cat in the middle of the road, it looks like yours, I said, Oh no, I don’t think it would be. Because she was young and quick and clever and would not get run over. But it was her. I still cannot understand how it could have happened. Mine is a quiet street, going nowhere, the traffic is always local, and not fast. I had no fears of her wandering the neighbourhood, crossing the road. I wonder if it was somehow deliberate, a wanton act of destruction.

I went and picked her up. She was already stiff, her fur dull, all the fluid movement gone out of her. She was whole, unmarked, there was no evidence of the blow that killed her. I lay her on the table on the terrace and sat beside her and mourned. There was a place down the backyard for a grave, where the soil was friable and leaf-littered. Tree roots made digging the hole hard, but with a mattock it was soon done. In the linen press was an old sheet of fine linen that had worn through and got a great split in it. I tore off a whole bit and wrapped her in that, and lay her in the earth. I could not bear the thought of earth clogging her fur, sifting in to her ears and nostrils – it seemed too cruel, too careless, to bury her without a shroud. She was a cat, but I understood why people need to perform certain acts of burial. A loved creature cannot be tossed away like rubbish. When I was a girl I played Antigone, a sister who risks her ruler’s displeasure and indeed incurs death at his hands, because she cannot bear not to bury her brother, though the king considers him disgraced and has forbidden it. Her punishment is to be buried alive, and still she believes she must perform her sacred duties.

Already a subscriber? Sign in here

If you are an educator or student wishing to access content for study purposes please contact us at griffithreview@griffith.edu.au

Share article

More from author

Small candle flames

MemoirWHEN I WAS four I had an urgent desire to go to Sunday School. I believe I nagged my parents about this. They didn't...

More from this edition

Cedric abroad

FictionCEDRIC MARCHANT LEFT England for the first time at the age of forty-one. He travelled to France by train and boat at the insistence...


PoetryRinging on a Sunday yourLondon doorbell holding the bookour friend Max insistsyou must have by handI find you like Everyman rumpledbetween one week′s end...

Without country

FictionTHE RIGGER COILED the line of wet rope around his hand, reeling in the sea crate they were using as a makeshift raft. 'Look...

Stay up to date with the latest, news, articles and special offers from Griffith Review.