GS (19/1/90 / birmingham (England))

Saying Goodbye To David

Another of life’s mandatory processions.
I lose rapid patience
With the portly vicar who speaks
As though she knew my uncle.

I cannot bear to face my weeping grandmother
As she blunders through the burial of her son,
Nor my father englufed in a rare moment of recollect.
I cannot believe that the urn being lowered into a neatly cut hole
Used to be my gangly awkward uncle.

I turn my back on the sham,
Disgusted by the glorified thing.
When I see her, distant from us, but not so far
That I cannot discern her features.
She is knelt by a grave whose name I could not read,
Talking to the stone as she replaces dead flowers for fresh,
Whispers on the wind my ears do not catch.
Tears start to shriek down her face.

I am ashamed suddenly, embarrassed.
What right do I have to spy on this delicate moment
of a stranger's life?

I look back though, in brief frequent glances.
She kisses her hand and touches the head stone gently
Before clearing the dead flowers from the lawn
And wiping away her tears.

She stands to leave, giving our own procession a thoughtful glance
Before winding slowly down the gravel path,
Then through the ornate wrought iron gates at the bottom of the hill.
she looks back only once before she vanishes from my sight.

I turn back to my family and watch them sprinkle soil over my uncle.
I feel my father’s eyes the span of time it takes
My own hand to litter a few sodden clumps of earth over the urn,
And say goodbye to David.

by Graham Stone

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