A downy snowfall,
and I’m heading to the crematorium
the chance poetry of any given day.
The flakes aren’t feathers;
they’re sharp, sharper when wet,
the footpath’s a fevered chill and
I’m wearing the flushed face of a new bride.
Not exactly the look for today,
though I’ll still arrive with flowers.
For a moment, we’re not even sure
if this is the right place. There’s another hall.
We have ten minutes.
An uncle deadens the crisp air
with a cigarette, a nephew comes over. Two days after
his grandfather’s death, he became father. Another moment
for a poet to exploit for wisdom, whereas everyone else
sees it as part of the getting on. “How’s the boy?” /
“Sleeping, crying and shitting” /
“How much did he weigh?” /
“About three and a half kilos”
… The grandmother arrives.
I never thought the old could mourn so.
Where’s the resignation? Aren’t funerals another mark
in the calendar box, with the saint names and phases of the moon?
Something else to get the good hat out for. Her tears
rinse away decades, illness, the cultivated family acrimony,
My blush is now on hers. She’s the one getting the kisses.
Are these the right kind of flowers? My shoes are wrong.
We enter the ceremonial hall. It’s the first time
I learn his family name. At get-togethers, we sat,
quiet table ends, me – too conscious of my accent,
too conscious to speak much.
He – recovering from the last stroke.
Not the blood of blood.
The grandmother’s third husband.
Grandchildren long freed of hope and duty,
but it’s still right that I’m here in the grim marble
on unyielding solemn seats listening to M’s Requiem
then “Moon River”, rendered in horns and bass;
the drum brushes scratching from another room.
My throat fills, rises, falls. The curtains meet
we stand. My shoes are still wrong.