Famadihana by Gaynor Kane

Apr 12, 2019

Six years, three hundred and sixty-four days
since we laid the long wreath of white lilies,
roses and spray carnations on the mound of soil,
dropped handfuls of claggy clay into the grave,
watched it break into lumps on hitting the oak lid,
tea and sandwiches in the working men’s club after.

Veronique went to Lidl for wine,
cheap stuff would be fine. There was an offer
on party prosecco. Hamilton took to B&Q
for shovels. I cleared the airing cupboard
of old sheets. Yellowing linen; perfect.

We have no idea where you had heard about it
or why you would ask for it to be done.
The solicitor didn’t know where to look
when she read out the will. You are turning
us into lawbreakers. Belfast City Council
has no policy for dancing with the dead.

On the night of the seventh anniversary
we exhume your coffin, thankful that your plot
is far enough back from the road. How strange
a sight it would be for folk on the Glider
or ambulance drivers returning to hospital.

We light scores of pillar candles. Purple-gloved,
we lift out your fossil form, swaddle you
in sheets, sprayed with scent of rose wine.
Play I Wanna Dance With Somebody
on your old ghetto blaster and dance
around the plot, conga style.

Whoo! Popping prosecco, we offer you a drink.
Sign our names on the sheet with black marker;
those not with us – all the family
you want to remember, including
the two tiny tots you never met.

Under the haloed mourning moon,
we join hands knowing that
everyone in the world
sees their own version.
We say the Lord’s prayer

and turn your bones.

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