Jo . . .
Jo is a theme revisited. Months later I discovered she’d died during surgery, the day we met.
“Desires of a human heart do not come with a use by date. The disappointment she must have felt at the moment of death can only have lasted but a fragment of time. To her it surely felt like stealth to slip the noose so lightly and step out on a path punctuated only by her own history – places, met by faces, crept into by heirloom ghosts”.
On cremation and the widow . . .
In menus for cremations, recipes are always the same – wind at birth, wind in life, and Vol au vents at death.
Mourners are often ceremonial penguins and although they’re much diminished by strong drink they seldom fall down except at Christmas and, by dint of oppressive sombreness, also at Ritual Incinerations. It’s certain that people will always be clumsy when faced with life in the raw; their supplications grit like sandpaper and never fail to scrub the widow’s wounds which she’ll wear as badges of honour as if sufferance was a sport. The lacy veil around the rim of her hat might disguise the melted face of mourning but yet, to my mind, this bride of the dead is a surrogate.
She, the mother of the dead, believes that woman to be a counterfeit playing to the rabble at the funeral, while the bona fide dowager drowns in grief in her bed. Her business-like bosom heaves and her fluted brow ripples at times at some twinkling memory fished in a net. But, with her audience at the funeral, played to by another fool, her poor finger is worn to bloody tatters pressing a bell to summon tea only for it to fall on deaf ears.
“They must dance in the morning and at noon in the sun
they must dance in the evening when the tune is almost done
(whisper) when the song is all but sung”.
Despite her scarf and bobble hat, her voice grows hoarse. “A hearse, a hearse, my knitting for a hearse”. Beep! Beep! No one gives way to funeral processions anymore or heeds a widow’s plea for tea.
“It must surely be a relative imperative
that in life there’s no abbreviation
and death delivers no deliberate alliteration”.
Life! Call it what you will – hell on earth or a one way trip on the magic bus – is often nought but a tragic fuss!
“(whisper) when the song is all but sung.
A bold cremation with elation from refrigeration
to prevent degeneration no flowers or verse for fear of degradation
and this blessed nation’s obsession with damnation.”
And another thing, there’s insufficient space on earth for everybody to be buried. If we tried anyway, just for the hell of it, imagine the crush. We’d never hear the end of it squashed shoulder to shoulder, our bones forced into a shrug for lack of inches, peacefully asleep and, at the same time, not giving a damn. Perhaps it’ll be the only time inches really and truly won’t matter.