March and April may have seen the resurgence of Life from its winter sleep, but they have also produced a sudden crop of 5 funerals: 3 ex-colleagues (Brian Newbould, Tony Platt and Norman Elmore); Joan Kensdale (the mother of Mady’s ex); and Wendy Mellor, a friend from my Nottinghamshire adolescence.
Tony’s funeral was on March 7th, which coincided with the date my Dad died in 1978. It gave rise to “Lifelines”, which is also the working title of an embryonic, third collection of poems, though I seem to have entered a writing “man-o-pause” after a fall in the bath (yes, I do) towards the end of March. And I thought head-banging went out with punk or heavy metal.
NB. The first round of the French Presidential elections is tomorrow and June 8th. will be on us before we can say, “Oh, no!” Remember the old saying, “Cast not a clout until May’s out.” (Some hope, but fingers tightly crossed for both!).
Lifelines: Crossing Words with Death
Dedicated to the memory of John Anthony “Tony” Platt (“Platty”)
24th. September, 1944 to 24th. February, 2017
I stand at the back of the chapel,
peering over the heads of those filling the pews,
your soberly clad family and friends, neighbours and workmates.
I’m fascinated by the splendid, eco-friendly isolation
of your lily-laden, wicker coffin.
Here I am saying my goodbyes,
39 years to the day, since my Dad’s departure.
Thoughts turn past images of picnic hampers,
past laundry days to those distant, steam-powered
journeys his pigeons made in their baskets,
cooing their fear from crops, rhythmically nodding
from dowling barred apertures.
How apt it would have been to send Dad off
on his final chuck in one made to measure.
In the cellar, one of his pigeon baskets waits, ready.