Late for the Funeral



We step into the chapel's past
with the guilty looks of the living;
we acknowledge the white, glanced-back faces
of the seated mourners

noting who is last to arrive.

The service is already in motion.
Our priest, snug by the flower-
laden coffin, declaims
from an ancient bible
in guttural, bardic welsh.
This is a village-only affair;

our mourning is intimate, closed-in.

I watch a heater's glowing cone
turn black, flare to red –
the tremor of a draught
testing the will of paraffin.
A slate slips on the roof above.
Emrys alone is denied distraction;
wrapped and nailed under polished pine
he waits on his silver trolley

with one brief journey to come.

Iesu Mawr! Is this our doom?
Cut in the rain-speckled hilltop
Emrys's bed is waiting; the mounded
mud of his blanket heaped nearby.