In memory of Judy Leach

Bendigo, Australia, 2020

I sit here
in the backseat
of my father’s car
one Thursday afternoon.
My father is the one driving
& my baby sister is beside him.

We are here together in the car
for the first time
in so                                 long,
drawing ever closer
to my baby sister’s new home.

As suburban houses blur by,
our streaming thoughts of you
effervesce into an overdue

We state
the sweet simple things
you yearned to do
on your ICU deathbed:
to return home
& continue cooking meals
for your husband & children;
to go out
in your new second-hand car
& buy bargain-priced antiques
at op shops.

As we speak about you,
your song comes on
the car radio: Over the Rainbow
by your namesake.

Judy’s angelic vocals
coupled with the               soaring
instrumental arrangement
strike major chords
& render us three

I recall how you adored
this sweet simple song
we haven’t heard
in so                                 long,
how the funeral
director mistakenly played
that cover version you disliked
at your burial.

I peer into the rear-view
mirror at my sister’s baby face.
The tears brimming in familiar eyes
reflect mine
as we draw ever closer
to my baby sister’s new home.

Here I am —
a backseat statistician —
wholeheartedly believing
in the beautiful spirituality
of synchronicity.


Stereo Story #540

Michael J. Leach (@m_jleach) is an Australian statistician, epidemiologist, and poet who works as a lecturer at Monash University. Michael’s poems reside in Cordite, Meniscus, Medical Journal of Australia, Plumwood Mountain, the Antarctic Poetry Exhibition, and elsewhere. Michael’s debut poetry collection – a health-themed chapbook – is forthcoming from Melbourne Poets Union.