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My Father's Funeral
February 2016

My father died in 2008. This is a memory of his funeral.

Read at the Puzzle Poets 4 April 2016

A September morning, warm to the skin
But stone cold with sobriety,
Pregnant not with expectancy nor expectation
But with entropy.
Pink faces planted awkwardly into black suits
Like well-scrubbed miners hauled up
From the tunnels of grief,
Eyes blinking in the daylight.

I chose Beethoven: the Moonlight Sonata,
Which he (and later I) played lovingly on the family piano
Until his finger, its tendon freshly severed by a cruel meat cleaver,
Failed to sound the notes.
I read a brief eulogy
Not about what he achieved,
Which meant nothing to the world,
But about who he was, the ever-present guru,
Which meant everything to my world.

Amidst oceans of marble and granite
Ebbing with chiselled inscriptive emotion,
Battered by Aeolian currents of long-lost grief,
On a verdant island of anonymity
Where the rain washes the dust of lives
Into the stream beyond the trees
And into eternity,
I stood for what seemed like eternity,
Alone with my questions, my regrets, my grey skies
Suspended in the stillness of the moment,
Awaiting the pinch of reality that never comes -
Because this was the reality.

Under the branches of the Remembrance Garden
I thought of his tree - of life;
Of generations of Lancastrian weavers,
Forbears frozen onto a Lowry canvas,
Faceless... but not nameless.
John begat Edward, and Edward begat Benjamin
And Benjamin begat Samuel, and Samuel begat William
And William begat Herbert, and Herbert begat Herbert William
And Herbert William begat Herbert;
And I... I was nearly another Herbert
Until my mother intervened.

What would these proud northerners have made of him now -
Covering the grass in this quiet corner of Devon,
His ashes tempered by 60 years of southern air?

Big boys don't cry...
But I did.
And when the Pennine hills groan under the mist-laden waves of gravity,
And when the first signs of merciless entropy creep into MY bones,
And when the wind blows the dust from faraway fields,
And when this egorhythmic world demands unpretentious stalwarts...
I still do.