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 blood.

    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.

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