The ground has been prepared. A green tarpaulin has been laid to one side ready to receive the coffin. Upon arrival each new mourner stands and looks around as if needing to take in the whole strangely mundane landscape.
dead oak tree–
still a fine presence
over the gravestones
As we slowly gather in small groups each of us seeks out a friend or relation they can comfort or get comfort from. Everyone is early or on time. We wait for the priest to come. Odd that he alone should be late.
a robin looks for worms
in the turned earth
This cemetery has been well looked after. The grass has received its first
cut of the year. The twig ends of trees and bushes already show the pale
green growths of leaves. Even so there's this cold breeze that makes it seem
the mourners stand in the lee
of the pile of earth
The Priest finally arrives. The service is begun. The adults stand in
awkward silence while the children shuffle their feet and fidget. They look
around seeking some diversion; some outlet for familiar childhood thought.
There is a feeling of un-naturalness. It seems as if we've all come here to
share some sense of exposure, of unredeemable vulnerability.
The deal box is lowered in a series of little snags. The ropes are slowly
eased over the scaffold planks that line the grave. They creak at the
bevelled edges of the coffin. Overhead the wind tests the tension in the
bird-box in the yew
gives out small chirpings
over the coffin
Now we move slowly in a line. Each takes their turn to add their own link
with the interred. I take off my glove. I bend and reach for a handful of
wet earth that refuses to crumble. Linked with the dead, just for a second,
through the trajectory of dirt, I make it my concern to control the turn of
my wrist to make it seem the earth has been released, not thrown.
a small child rescues
an unearthed crocus
Published in The Unseen Wind: British Haiku Society Haibun Anthology 2009, Lynne Rees and Jo Pacsoo (Editors), British Haiku Society.