i.m. Liz Stafford
In the crematorium I try to sit,
if I can, where I can see the lawn
sloping up towards the landscaped copse,
and, today, blue sky. I assume the dead,
even if you could, would not begrudge
this longing to be elsewhere, to be free.
You have prepared for your death: choosing
the readings, and the hymns any pragmatic
atheist might know, briefing the eulogist
with selected work and leisure anecdotes.
I admire such fortitude, such command.
‘…send not to know for whom the bell tolls…’
At the funeral of a neighbour’s son,
among the family anecdotes
was one about a rope swing his dad had made.
The young man when still a very small boy
would swing ever higher from the garden oak
over the wall, the towpath and the canal.
I think of that now – pretty sure, like me,
that whatever risks you took were in your head
but were no less vertiginous for that.