( i.m. Gerry Flanagan)
There is nothing more to say but still we talk,
as if the silence is a trapdoor into another world,
letting the dead come back to haunt us. He lives on,
but only as an idea in our minds and we explain away
his death although we know it is beyond explaining.
The crude fact of how he died is like a light
that can’t be quenched. Although we didn’t find him,
the image of his hanging shadow darkens our thoughts.
We can no longer picture him as he was, but we must see him
joyless, lifeless as a doll with empty eyes gazing into a future
he’ll never meet. Our experience of the stench of death is
limited to the contents of the compost bin at home, we dig it
into the soil in Spring, renewing the face of the earth.
It’s easy to believe the idea of new growth when you smell
the sap rising, but fresh cut grass from weekend lawns
soon decays; it doesn’t live again, it’s new grass every time.
A Halloween false face mounted on a horizontal suit; that’s how
he looks to us. We can’t touch him, afraid there will be nothing
under his jacket sleeve; his scarecrow self is out of reach.
I watch a girl lean across the coffin and let her red lips
brush his quickly. I want to tell her he’s not there.
Who does she think she’s kissing? What does she taste on him?
The chemicals they use to make him fit for viewing or the vestiges
of misspent youth; cigarettes and alcohol, and fish and chips?