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Poetry Pleases: Finale

Joyce Worsfold writes with humour about that last sad event - but the humour cannot conceal an ocean of tears.

A neighbour arrives with her paraphernalia
cradles carnations oasis, ribbon
“Just give me a corner and I’ll get cracking”
Arthritic fingers circle stems
Coax, press, position,
“Aye it’s slow work but I’d like to do it”
Wicker basket, maiden fern, fat pinks
scent of cinammon and damp grass.

A woman with a zimmer and a walnut face
brings a bunch of sweet peas.
You bury your face in them
scent intensified by tears,
I avert my eyes to a lustre jug
filled with golden Whiskey Mac
winking on the mantle flanked by cards.

A formality of aunts
crammed in the kitchen
chopping and grating
and assembling quiches.
Two sponges from a cousin in Berkshire
sandwiched with cream from her own cows.

I polish the Waterford bowl
and watch it filled
kiwi fruit and nectarines
peaches and tangerines
“The strawberries were half price at Sainsbury’s''

“No...........we’ll leave the banana till last
No point in taking chances”

“No paper plates, she wouldn’t have liked it
Lucy next door is bringing her Wedgewood
Jean over the road her Royal Albert
and of course there’s our Lady Carlyle.
Don’t forget to polish the legs of the table”

I lay the crystal glass in serried rows
and watch the laser show
as they catch the sun.
I pour sherry and smile.

You want no wreaths
no weeping in corners.

We put her to rest
with roses and Rachmaninov
and with Vivaldi by Nigel Kennedy
because she thought him such a clever lad.
She always said, “Have your cake whilst you’ve still got your teeth.”


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