from A Part Song

by Denise Riley

A wardrobe gapes, a mourner tries

Her several styles of howling-guise:
You’d rather not, yet you must go

Briskly around on beaming show.
A soft black gown with pearl corsage

Won’t assuage your smashed ménage.
It suits you as you are so pale.

Still, do not get that saffron veil.
Your dead don’t want you lying flat.

There’ll soon be time enough for that.

It’s late. And it always will be late.

Your small monument’s atop its hillock

Set with pennants that slap, slap, over the soil.

Here’s a denatured thing, whose one eye rummages

Into the mound, her other eye swivelled straight up:

A short while only, then I come, she carols  – but is only

A fat-lot-of-good mother with a pointless alibi: ‘I didn’t

Know.’ Yet might there still be some part for me

To play upon this lovely earth? Say. Or

Say No, earth at my inner ear.