This is no grief I have ever known.
It is as if
a child has drawn a wandering unbroken line
through all the days
I am still to live.
Before me, in the unsparing flat,
“her wonderfully large dramatic rings.”
Again the crematorium’s
contrived solemnity returns,
and I uncomprehending
why when everything’s so
pointedly about my mother
none of this has to do with my mother,
who’s probably outside,
sitting on a gravestone, smoking,
her handbag beside her.
“She’s here now, darling,”
says Jill, the woman at Cooperative
Funeralcare, on the telephone.
So, on Friday, Kenny Bird from Airport Cars
will pick me up outside the flat.
He’ll have his satnav on.
I’ll sit in the back, my right arm
cradling the urn.
In due course we’ll be in Leicestershire,
where I was born, its villages,
the church she always said was Norman,
Great Dalby greened in shadows, then the lanes
she loved and drove along too fast
of hawthorn, kex, may. . .
and arrive (I’ll point out the fingerpost)
at Burrough Hill.
It’s only me this time,
walking up the path
with my haversack,
pausing at the cows on the left.
One begins to amble over.
Summer after summer. . .
Ahead, the iron-age escarpment lifts
its great green plate of England to the sky.
The perimeter. I look across
the plateau where such sheep as these
have grazed for centuries,
and reach the place where fifteen years ago
she gave her mother’s ashes to the wind.
I sit, smoke a cigarette, the brand
she used to smoke, eat two Waitrose
prawn and mayonnaise sandwiches, gaze down upon
the fields, the sheep and cows, the villages,
a kestrel till it disappears.
Now. It’s now to let what breeze there is
take her, take her,
making her the land’s.
I had forgotten the larks.
I shall never stop
She knew the names of all the roadside flowers.
It’s lambing time on Burrough Hill.