Tuesday, 14 May 2013

14. Dust

This is a true graveyard story, and strangely, I found it a profoundly moving one to experience. What was said to me by the grave, though such a well-worn phrase, had such a different, solid and somehow reassuring impact on me. Who knows when, but what is inevitable is that we all become dust. Knowing this, truly feeling this reality can be terrifying. But it can also be the reality slap we need to make sure we don't live life by contingency, thinking "I'll try/do/say that when.." The photograph is the one I took that day.


After the funeral had finished
I hid and waited in view of the church
Watched ‘til the lingering mourners diminished,
So I could return to the graveyard alone.

I wanted to breathe that quiet moment
Say goodbye without feeling visible:
With relations’ words platitude condolence
And half smile grave talk: only the admissible

Social questions, not the one I feared
They wished to ask, of why my own marriage
Had ended. Alone then, the pathway cleared.
Went back to the grave, with growing courage,

And a feeling that this might be abhorrent
That maybe I was somehow wrong
For wanting to see that coffin quiet,
Her name there, where she now belonged

Above her husband, in his box before.

Ducking my head under Yew,
I realised I was too late:
The diggers were busy and my adieu
Could not be my own, as they threw

Spade soil onto them both, in the double grave.
They worked fast, but spied me there
As I took a photograph. Braving
The oddness, I walked forwards. Air

Stopped a moment, as did they.
One man, IN the grave, soil dispatcher.
My mouth my mind would not obey:
“You are standing on my Grandmother!"

“Aye”, said he. And he pounded ground
With heavy thuds, as the box vibrated
Somehow soothingly. He expounded,
And met my eye with words adequate:

“Earth to Earth and Dust to Dust”,
Before he continued his toil.
And I might have felt nonplussed
Had not the truth rung out in soil.

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