The Day of the Funeral (1980)
On the day of the funeral it rained.
Water runnelled down the gravel pathway
To the village cemetery; wild grass
And the great-limbed trees, were green
Once more in their pride of life: it was May.
The few words were said, the coffin lowered.
Wet earth struck against naked wood.
Looking down I saw an inch or two of water
Below the bright name, soon to tarnish.
We straggled back under inadequate umbrellas;
Bareheaded, I worried about catching a cold,
And she quiet in the sodden ground,
The heavy, water-holding clay
That clung to my best black shoes.
Later there were sandwiches and hot tea,
Dark and well-sugared, the way she always drank it,
And, of course, the inevitable snapshots.
Could this be her, with Edwardian straw-boater
Afloat on high flood-tide of dark hair,
This woman so imperiously beautiful?
(Is it possible that Helen grew old?)
Was this the face I saw only days ago,
Withered and grey, shrunk upon the bone?
Copyright © Bernard Gilhooly - All Rights Reserved