The funeral of half a stranger

by Morven Grey

It was January, there was no snow,
and the sky was baptised in smoky grey.
I went to a funeral in my school uniform,
in a creased blazer that smelled like
pencils and sweat and cheap perfume.
I remember that the coffin was flooded with flowers;
stars of butter and pearl and blood and hoarfrost.
The coffin looked sort of liked woven straw –
I ached to reach out and touch the knobs
like a blind girl hungry for stories in Braille,
to trace them like the bumps of a starving child’s spine
that she, in her anorexic madness,
had coveted so well. We went inside.
The lights were bright and whitish-yellow
as the cartoon suns I knew so well from childhood.
I heard all the things I did not know about her and felt
myself shrinking, dissolving, like water on a dynasty
of desert sand. I was glass – brittle and sharp
and ready to shatter into a thousand glittering shards,
a vicious rainbow power smaller than the ashes
that are all that is left of her now.