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death and after

Those weeks alone in her flat were difficult.

It was cold and I got sick after the funeral.

I had sat on a plane for hours, straight and

by the time I wound the tortuous roads in-

land to up-stream Latium, I had been

on the road, for about 40 hours. It was good

to get clean at last and eat the rough Sabine food,

a hot winter soup and hard bread and beans and pork,

and good drink. I got dropped off and opened her door

for the first time in more than a year. There was

no-one there and I felt, what? I slept on her bed

curled in a ball. I was cold but I slept like the dead –

good, down for the first time in two days. I saw her

lying flat in the morning, flowers on her breast;

and later at the church and last, the beautiful

cemetery by the monastery of St Francis

at Fontecolombo: the Dove’s Fountain. The ceremony

of a digger filling the grave troubled me. A friend

put her arm round me, and later in the week she came

with her husband to see me, and I was so out of it,

nodding on the chair, laughing occasionally.

I remember. The family doctor had been… supportive.

It was cold and not quite winter. The end of November –

when pigs btw get slaughtered. She used to run, run

from the farm as a little girl and block her ears.

I understand this and try hard not to care.


I want to tell her now that she is not a cold

set of bones buried underground in her soiled

gown. It’s for the scientist to strip us down,

bare of, or to a bare root of, meaning. We dig

past the facts I think. But, they write the books

I will read some day, dying and senile, and declare

my atheism in support, a last stupid act

of defiance. Now, I want to tell her that she lives

for real and for good – not just in some metaphor

I thought up, which is really nothing at all. I recall


one morning how the wind cut through my clothes

on my way to see, vaguely, an office clerk in town.

I had to take care of some business, a lot more

than I care for. Friend, I felt so cold. Those weeks

in the flat are like a dream to me now. I disposed

of her clothes. You know how that feels, or imagine.

I kept her winter shawl and her dressing gown. Took them


11 October 2015

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