Beneath the Edwardian village hall’s
high ceiling, under its oak hammer beams,
beside the Roll of Honour ‘For the Fallen’,
a squad of four year olds does the Conga, plays
The Farmer’s in his Den, Passes the Parcel.
The birthday girl is dressed as Spiderman –
her choice – eschewing Snow White, Rapunzel.
The backcloth of the proscenium stage
is a painting of part of the village
in halcyon shades of early summer –
the elm-lined road from the hall to the church.
There are eighteen names on the Roll – initial,
surname – rankless and ageless in death.
She snuffs out the candles with one breath.
We sing the song, share the cake and play
one last game of Musical Statues.
Everyone wins. Party bags in hand,
goodbyes and thank yous said, children exhausted,
adults relieved, we turn off the lights –
to leave the hall’s long wooden wall clock,
electrified now, to click past each