Scattering Ashes at Landâ€™s End
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â â€”for Jean Baker
I do not want to walk where we walked
or stand where we stood with nothing but ash in my hands.
I should have built an altar to capture your glee
as you drove the countrysideâ€™s narrow roads,
hedgerows scraping the car, greeting oncoming drivers
with a wave and a Carry on, old chap!â€”
should have recorded our talk over bangers and mash,
Guinness and chips, sloe Plymouth gin.
All right then, you would intone,
British as could be, as if everything were all right,
as if neither of us saw the sword raised over your head,
as if we could wish our way into the future
year after improbable year.
Cheers, mate. Letâ€™s become old women together.
I want you to take in this harbor, this English mist,
these moors and the dark Notter pub,
to lead me again on a bike through the city,
to insist if I donâ€™t buy the painting
Iâ€™ll live with regret. I bought it that day.
Whereâ€™s the guarantee on regret?
I want you to raise your children, love your man,
rise from the dust in my hand
to toast our good health, our good luck.
Weâ€™ve got it all, luv, you would tell me once more.
Your bones, fine as memory, stick to my skin.
Poem by Laura Apol.