The cemetery wall is topped with slates
like headstones, leaning.
How many sorrows can a wall contain?
Shapes that we associate
with death enclose the burial ground.
Mourning encloses mourning.
Beyond the wall the graveyard stones are white,
here they are blue and turning black.
Grief, too, has found its flavours,
each flavour finds its addicts.
Someone has scribbled "Mummy" on a slate.
I wonder when she died - or if she died.
If so, of what? And when? How old?
The wall is border, demarcation:
dead and living must not mix or be confused.
Inside are other borders, other demarcations.
A cortege has appeared, from nowhere it would seem.
Ghosts. People-shapes of mourners,
a black regatta
flowing first towards me, then away,
unsure of form, unsure of what to say
and stripped of all those age-old consolations,
as am I.
Only the cemetery has that sureness,
the quiet certainty we've lost.
The rest is faithless, featureless:
the wilderness, allotments
and the garden bordering.
The dust of those traditions,
those muddled certainties.
So many lonely people.
People lonely in their different ways.
The coffin like a landscape,
sparkles in the rain.
Sparkles into life, you might say.
Almost. Beyond it,
stone steps to where the landscapes meet.
Collide and run together.
If only we could map all our
internal rifts and all our roots,
have nothing strange or mindless left
to throw us off the scent.
The dust requires some structure to be put in place.
We think a wilderness of thoughts
and try our best to bring them all together.
This place is part of that.
The rain is setting in more solidly.
I watch the wasteland and the garden edge together,
blur, and penetrate each other, pinch
each other’s frontiers further back.
Man and nature alternate
in tiny triumphs and disasters
where neither stands supreme.
Between this lost domain and that
the words that carry visions fall as dust.
A bit of bramble here,
a slither of herbaceous border,
clump of nettles... Near at hand
a coffin stacked with flowers.
was written and waiting in the wings for a launch date when first Magpie Tales
and then Writers Island
came up with these two prompts which suggested what follows:
As clear a mark of spring as daffodils,
the house flung open to the fields that wait,
and out all dust and winter festerings,
then in sweet floral scents, the mind to breathe
and make of this dark cell a forest glade.
No winter is more dour nor has more weight
than shuttered minds routinely looking in.
It's in the looking out, beyond, behind
we see the colours that are there to find.
The world is black and white or it is grey
(a veil as false as shadows on a wall
that fogs the mind as cataracts blur sight)
until the veil is lifted, bolts are drawn.
If transience intensifies the hues
it's grief that renders them in black and white.
In the bedroom once,
one thing led to another
now it's in the bathroom.