END GAME

by Ken Jones


Neat rows of slate
the upright dead
some lie this way
and some that

“You can arrange the chairs anyway you want”, says Mr Charon, the crematorium manager. What really animates him are coffins, and particularly the requirements of the Federation of British Cremation Authorities. He worries about the hazards of exploding pacemakers and noxious coffin varnishes.
 
Later I check my own homemade coffin. It hangs in the rafters of our barn looking down at me like in those near-death experiences. Just a dusty plywood box.

My easy chair
always behind me
reclining empty

Too busy with the paperwork. Order of service, funeral oration, the lot…

Study door ajar
a stranger’s
crowded, silent books

Up on Plynlimon mountain beside my hermit cave there’s a smooth face of Cambrian slate.

Lingering
in the warmth of stone
a grey butterfly

I get to work with lump hammer and chisel. By the time I’ve done my name and got to the dates my memorial is beginning to look quite professional.

1930 – 20..

Should I chisel another zero to save my executor the trouble ?
 
I make my way home along the old familiar sheep paths over the mountain, guiding me through a misty haze.

Evening sky
the ghost
of the departing sun

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