APOLOGY: This blog was originally published with the last line missing … oops, the blogbot must have eaten it! Please read it again and relish the significance of the last few words.
What good is it for a man to gain the whole world and yet forfeit his soul?
Mark, ch 8, v, 36
Recite this out loud:
He swung a weird brass bucket to and fro—
Like a bucket, but not quite.
Something you would never really know
Outside the rather alien rites
Of the undertaker’s trade,
Its equipment and its practicalities
Which, ostrich-like, we prefer to evade.
He must’ve pulled some little trigger-thing
And out there flowed a stream of dust,
Like emptying a Hoover, carpeting
The patch of crematorium that’s just
Reserved for scatterings.
Deftly, he missed his smartly polished shoes.
You might wonder, does it matter if
It’s scattered here or there. Is there anything to lose?
But my mother, then was saying through a screen
Of tears, “Near the flowers, or we won’t remember where.”
And on the grass it settled, grey on green.
Hope softly smothered in a layer of despair.
Unfortunately as the years have gone,
Together with the dust that was my dad,
My mother’s memory’s become
Just a memory. Steadily she’s losing all she had.
It matters less then, if the flowers live or die.
She won’t remember what or where.
And his eighty-seven years of life—
Achievements, friendships, obsessive, crushing cares—
Being pulled down a slope, clawing vainly at the grit,
By the thief who stole his sight, his hearing and his touch,
The disease which took relentlessly, his senses, bit by bit;
Not rich but neither poor—fine, he never asked for much.
Is that it, that really it—
“Over by the flowers so we’ll know another day”,
But she’s forgetting anyway?
But he knew and served The Lord for forty years,
A steel-worker tempered, not destroyed
By alternating, fiery trials and cooling tears,
Then to his carers singing shameless hymns of joy
And amongst his final words, “I’m not afraid”
And then to sleep till clocks forever are re-set.
And then to rise, complete, refined, remade.
That’s it–or, “By the flowers, or we’ll forget”