The Somnus coffin arrives to neighbours’ stares,
medium oak veneer with metal handles, traditional interior.
I have the man put it on a stand in the sitting room.
The florist delivers wreaths with seasoned solemnity.
As I light candles I remember my grandmother’s words:
‘Don’t tempt fate.’
But this fate is inevitable. A dress rehearsal will do me good.
The scent of lilies and burning wax hangs in the air.
I put on my Sunday best, cake my face in make-up
use a mourner’s chair as a step and climb in as if
into a kayak. It’s soft. A bed without room to turn over.
Pull the satin up to my waist, elasticated like a spraydeck.
There is no paddle. No duvet.
I rest my hands on my chest, fingers plaited.
Let my face drop to stone.
Clean the bathroom! Put the bins out! Find a home for the cat!
Lie still. You’re dead. No last minute jobs.
Run upstairs, burn the letters! The diaries!
Lie still. You’re dead.
Turn over a new leaf!
One last phone call?
Everything that is going to happen
in my life has already happened.
Landmark moments unravel.
My flesh is turning to soil,
and the importance of important things
flies away like a black bird into the night.
With thanks to the Hawk’s Well Theatre for first publishing this poem.
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