Friday, 8 May 2009

Death of Aunt Martha

We came down the lane, stones spitting sideways
Past  white-washed pillars
Wishing us here
Squat stone-walled dykes cradling
Cattle and suspicious sheep

Where once was green and full of life,
And farmyard sounds and smells
All black became

All grief,  all thoughts of her

Who, auntie ?
Did no one think to tell me?
Did no one think I needed to know?

" NO, No, No .. not Auntie " I screamed
In the room where no one spoke

Auntie who  caught us
Spitting in the ‘midden’
And said ‘where did you boys learn

Auntie who dusted soda farls
With the floured wing of a long dead

Auntie who smoked and shook
the walls when wracked with cough

Who sat with the butcher, Hugh
we called him ‘Uncle’

In his clean white van, all cool and red
and quiet
Like meat on the counter
Ready to be bought,

Who sat by the fireside
and talked as Sunday slept

All blessings said, all goodbyes gone
We turned around
Back down the lane
Past the pillars,
Cud chewing cows

And I wondered
Where the sheep had gone

© 2009 Mervyn Cooke

First appeared in Atonal Poetry Review US Jan 2010

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