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by jeff gallagher

yes it is written - the seed a child

and the christening dress a veil

the veil a half-formed shroud

framed to clothe the aged flesh

and the skeleton lying supine

at the holy breaker’s yard

the bones blown like pollen

on the last indifferent breeze

and after the observance of sorrow

in bombazeen silk and crepe

and the offerings of bright bouquets

soon dying on mantelpieces

and the dead’s compulsory candles

snuffed out upon their going

someone may turn and consider

how the dead one brought us here

not with tolling bells and armbands

but with rude joy and laughter

not to question why the living die

but recall how they have lived

and someone may find certainty

as they fall upon their knees -

when this weeping anticipation

brings so much fear and grieving

it is surely right - this commemoration

of all that each life achieved -

as well be sure of what is known

as to endure the not knowing


Jeff Gallagher is from Sussex, UK. His poems have featured in publications such as Rialto, The High Window and The Journal. He has had numerous plays for children performed nationwide. He was the winner of the Carr Webber Prize 2021. He has been a teacher of English and Latin. He also appeared in an Oscar-winning movie. Like a broken amphora, he has no handles.


Image by Bree Anne
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