We used to race by them,
holding our breath
to pay childish respect to the residents within,
laughed out our aliveness in hungry gasps
once past the graveyard.
Older, I used to jog through one in Ealing
with the dog walkers and the foxes and squirrels;
we darted the portrait galleries
of these fragments of lives
chipped into stone. Parakeets that dressed
the greys and browns
with their exotic blooms of colour
named the ghosts in squawks from high branches.
We haunted their dusks in the hush
behind its iron gates under the Beeches
and Oaks that darkened the sky.
All these markers keep the secrets
of unrevealed joys and sadnesses,
quiet too of the violences and passions,
they do not run or make a hurried dash
worms wriggle in the ash.
Mourners attend their memories,
this fixed address eases the hollow of departures,
but there are funerals I haven't been to;
much more afraid of the living -
the dead have never frightened me.
And there are other silences of the heart
and grasps of ivies that entangle in concealments
to break free from, internal deaths and memorials;
those we have lost remind us to re-emerge from them,
blanch-faced from our own entombments.
Image from pixabay.