Northwords Now Issue 38

The FREE literary magazine of the North

Travelling to the Crematorium

by Stuart A Paterson

I’d just spent 81 years in 15
minutes eulogising you,
tear-free bravery of a sort
I never knew I had but had to have
for sister, brother, neighbour, friend, mother.
Travelling to the crematorium
at Holmsford Bridge seemed more
important than the getting there,
that point of saying a final dry farewell
where only I would hear my mother
say Cheerio Barclay as if & actually to herself,
each word seven letters long,
each syllable on nodding terms with death
already.
In the car we each remembered
separate pieces of this baffling quiet
jigsaw of a life that made three more,
none unconnected, some long unbidden
then being wetly resurrected
in that five-seat speeding space,
examined, weighed & tested before
slotting one by rough-edged one into place.
When we reached the crematorium, we knew
this would be merely ceremony,
that the picture made along the way
could never burn, that all the things we’d tried
to say we said together now,
each word a seven-letter journey taken
on to life without you.