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Thursday, 15 December 2011

the coffin kept changing its colour

The coffin kept changing its colour.
In the snug - for the wake - it was a dark mahogany
but as the bearers lifted it, I saw it turn to honey.
Out in the street, it was more like oak,
but winding our way to the chapel gate -
the chapel on the hill - I wondered:
could this be his ultimate joke?
or had he another, perhaps, up his shroud?

Well, I'd known, I suppose, the answer to that all along.
I was right: as the coffin was carefully set on its bier:
PING! it went, PING! Very loud, very clear.
LIFT-OFF that was, for a chrome coffin nail. Straight up!
Into orbit, no doubt, no messing about. Soon followed: the rest...
PING! PING! PING! PING! (Though each to its different note.)

It took me a while to fall-in (there were a large number of nails):
the tune was his numero one: Cabaret.
I looked round the chapel, but only to see
they all were still serious - looking at me! I took off the grin.
Had I imagined it? Maybe dropped off? Dreamed the whole thing?
Almost missed his voice? Recorded back when?
No way of knowing... Dark one as ever he was. Just listen!

There's never a spark
'till the mind grows quite dark

Like sods in the fields where the fork has been,
the dead will turn
and the animals scrape them clean.

I hopes you're laughing,
'coz while you're laughing
I'm happily passing away.


Then when at last the cortege formed again,
and took the path to the steep stone steps
that lead down to the beach,
the bearers whispered together
(I heard them as we went)
how the coffin grew heavier step by step.

They rested it then - at his request - on the lichen-covered rock,
his feet towards the sea - just touching it.
We watched the coffin turn a cobalt blue, then we were off again,
back up the steps, but now to open ground, the coffin black as jet.

And that's about the end of what I can tell,
the rest of what happened taking place - dissolving, I should say -
in desultory rain that washed each new trace from my memory.

His life and mine had run in parallel
but now they merged into a single, clear solution
which I have yet to filter through the net of night.
Like oceanic rise and fall, I felt breath leaving me
to cloud the day as if it was ice cold.

17 comments:

Cloudia said...

It is our friendly blog habit to praise one another, but I must say that (in my limited scholarly vocabulary) this is a first rate work, touching deep themes in a rich and fulminating way. The changes in color permit one to fill the universal with one's own private intimations. This has been my intellect and soul's food for the day.

Aloha from Honolulu
Comfort Spiral

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Kass said...

I like this poem, especially the suggestion that there is another joke up his shroud.

I'm a little jolted by the ending because it seems you are wishing something, suggesting the subjunctive form of "to be".
"...as if it were ice cold." Did I miss something in the meaning?

kaykuala said...

The passing of life! Cleverly presented. Was it a soul playing tricks on those still living? I wonder. Great write Dave!

Hank

haricot said...

The coffin is magical, and it makes the sadness a little lighter.

Mary said...

I'd say this is quite a mystical write, Dave. Death can be quite mysterious as well as mystical, so he coffins changing color really fit right in with that!

Brian Miller said...

rather surreal dave...the launching of coffins makes an intersting visual...the merge at the end is a great touch moving it to the metaphysical for me..

anthonynorth said...

Another good one. Surreal, mystical all in one.

Monika said...

I liked the ending particularly. Gets me confused and open at the same time. Like oceanic rise and fall, feeling the cold breath.

Gerry Snape said...

"...desultory rain that washed each new trace from my memory"...
that's fantastic...we have all been in such a rain storm and nothing is real in that but the very moment you are alive. brilliant

jabblog said...

This made me think of Jimmy Savile who wanted to be buried at an angle of 45 degrees so that he could see the sea!
The thought distracted me somewhat from your verse which I liked enormously. It's good to be able to smile at a funeral.

Eileen T O'Neill ..... said...

Dave,

I suppose it is really a mark of the one who has passed. If in life they were a larger than life character, then our expectations of them in death are equally high. Going out on a high note, since anything else might be too boring.
I'm sure a colour changing coffin could be arranged!!!!

Eileen

Windsmoke. said...

A truely magical coffin and weird funeral :-).

manicddaily said...

Wow! This is just wonderfully creative and interesting. K.

Jyoti Mishra said...

Superb title..
just loved it... awesome expressions n fantastically written.

Thanks 4 visiting me :)
lovely blog u have !!

Dave King said...

Cloudia
Wow, I think I ought to speak to you about becoming my agent! I don't really know how to reply to such a munificent response, but I do thank you so much for it.

Kass
Thanks for the comment. It's pleasing that you enjoyed the joke.

I don't think you missed anything. I simpy had the thought that I would like to end on a slightly ambiguous/metaphysical note. Guess I just made it confusing. I may revisit it at some time in the future. Thanks again.

kaykuala
My guess - which is no more any other person's - is that he arranged it all before he died.

haricot
Thanks. Glad you think so.

Mary
Yes, that's very much as I thought about it. Thank you for voicing it.

Brian
Interesting that you found it surreal. That's probably taking it a tad further than my own thinking went - though I am quite comfortable with it. The metaphysical end, s noted above, was intended, though.

anthonynorth
Thanks for the confirmation. Very helpful.

Monika
Hi, a warm welcome to you and my thanks for your comment. Really good to have it.

Gerry
Yes, I was in one recently, the memory surfaced just at the right moment. Thanks.

jabblog
I find this a most delightful comment. Thank you for it.

Eileen
I must admit that I do like the idea of it! I am sure it could be arranged as well. I might try the joke shop in the High Street.... Thanks for your thoughts.

Windsmoke
I think he would have settled for your assessment! Thanks.

manicddaily
Thanks so much for these kind words. Much appreciated.

Jyoti
Hi! Really good to have you visiting. Thanks for taking the time to comment. Very useful.

Sheila Moore said...

Wow - a visual dream-like treat!

Ygraine said...

This one really appeals to my sense of humour!
I love the idea of the departing Soul having a joke at the expense of the still-living.
I hope my funeral will be this much fun!!