Outside the Crematorium
The car that brings that box
with requisite solemnity
purrs reverently to its gentle halt.
The engine is well mannered,
so quiet I hardly know it’s died,
yet the silence now is solid,
till men in black, with practised gravity,
pass to the rear to slide out that box
from its car-borne bier,
where it sat like a slab during transit.
Now it commands my eyes;
it shares my air.
That box! It cannot be ignored,
not now it is here and I so close
and knowing what is in it.
Only when it is carried inside
and placed on the catafalque –
restoring distance between it and me –
do I allow a resumption of my breath
as I move into the chapel
to take my place and make my farewell.