Crematory  Pensées

Crematory Pensées
On the radio
Mendelssohn Elijah 
‘O Rest in the Lord’
Kathleen Ferrier.
I’m thinking black suit today
the Paul Smith will do nicely.
The diet’s working
I can button the trousers
without gut sucking  
have to buy braces
the way it’s going.
Shame about the white shirt
it went in the wash
with something red
wants bleaching.
Chuck it away
buy another
white shirts in charity shops?
Ten a penny.
Prefer second-hand
wonder about previous owners
no underwear
or dead men’s shoes though.
A Rael Brook poplin
‘shirt you don’t iron’
white with a hint of lime
is on a hanger somewhere
it will need smoothing.
Save time
keep the jacket buttoned
that’s the thing.
The ‘Water Lilies’ silk tie
Monet or Manet?
Manet or Monet?
Vanessa did tell me
when she gave it me.
It’ll round off my get-up nicely.
Slow stroll to the cremmy.
Pushing the sombre antique
bible-black stately Pashley
my improper granddad
suppled the saddle of
while on his rounds
of ‘needy’ widows
(all hours night and day)
will give me time
to gather mes pensées.
Show my face at the wake
then shoot off
got to get my garden sorted
while the sun’s shining and
the wheel’s still in spin.
Every day
I hear someone
has died through
drink… cancer…
old age… liver…
heart attack… spleen or hit and run…
part and parcel of growing older.
Could be worse
be me in the hearse.
Ferrier gives way to
Josephine Baker
‘Remember Me’ from Dido
Good stuff on the radio.
It’s peaceful sauntering
Rose Bush Row
beauty from ashes
photos of footy fans
rugby fans
knitters and crafters
dog lovers and nothings in particular
poking through bunches of stapled flowers.
That teddy bear – a baby’s spread there.
The bell on the bike
rings loud enough
to waken the dead.
Maybe I’ll treat them to a tinkle.   
Three trips here
in as many weeks
and the dying season
hasn’t kicked off yet.
Flick crisp crumbs
off my regular
back of chapel end-row chair
check cracks in the ceiling
and my fingernails.
Same flowers as last time
bet they’re artificial
Crematorium workers  
in ‘official’ sweaters
standing at the front
one of them’s garbling ‘Our Father’.
Can’t they run to a vicar?
The mourners join in
‘Harold be thy name’ 
the proper words
only vague memories
of school assemblies remain.
‘While shepherds wash their socks at night
All seated round the tub
A bar of Sunlight soap came down
And they began to scrub.’
‘…For ever and ever Amen.’
Relief all round.
Round and round
the death wheel goes
where it stops nobody knows.
‘Walk on through the wind’
The sleeping fan
at the head of the queue  
never made hajj to Anfield.
Rolled into the pub
just before kick-off
wearing his replica
never spoke
drank his pints
silent stoic
win lose or draw
went home.
He was from Nigeria.
The northern part.
Liverpool big in Africa?
Who’d a’thought?
Takes all sorts.
So here he lies
boxed in MDF
with walnut veneer
‘Remember me!’
‘Remember me!’
‘Don’t forget me.’
waiting to be rollered
through velvet drapery
to rose bush eternity.
‘Though your dreams be tossed and blown’    
seeps from the chapel next door.
Death-stiff footy fans
pop up everywhere.
Should I raise my arms
‘arriba los brasas’
wave an imaginary scarf?
Pity no one’s heard of Fauré
his Requiem’s okay.
Especially the crescendo bit
I synchronised with
while having it off
with that Vanessa
on her vinyl sofa.
She bought the cassette
the very next Saturday
Remember me? Vee?
Kathleen Ferrier’s
What is Life?
would suit me 
but realistically?
Orfeo and Eurydice?
The curtains close.
Same old finale to
the same old film
it’s been ‘director’s cut’ this time
stripped down to bare bones
starker than usual
no eulogy
no platitudes from a clerical robe.
Wham!  Bam!
thanks for coming,
sir and ma’am.
‘Exit right for your safety and convenience’
My quiet elegance –
suitpoplinshirtsilktie –
draws ‘looking good’ nods
as I hang around
shaking hands with
the smokers
face set to ‘glum’.
Back to pub – ‘see him off’?
Yeah there’s a few going
it’s pretty low-key though
most of us are away on a jolly.
We booked months ago
ten days all-inclusive
less than 300 quid all-in
shame you ain’t coming.
Taxi’s waiting
got to run
last check-in’s at one
Yeah – we’ve laid a buffet on.

© coolhermit 2023
critique and comments welcome.
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Wonderful funeral observation-fragments – Inventive and as retentive as ever…. Harold be thy name.- bit like us singing the Welsh anthem; “My hen laid a haddock, we ate it for tea…”

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