by Joanna Batch

But man is a Noble Animal
splendid in ashes,
and pompous in the grave.
(Sir Thomas Browne)

Margate; 5pm on a Tuesday,
sheeting rain, and I’m emptying your soul.
An instant coffee jar in bronze plastic
and I’m scooping handfuls of your life and times.
You stand on the pier, stroll ‘til two,
chippie, you play the slots and bus number seven back.
It was always the same.

Resting in the cheapest urn, a plastic shopping bag,
I cradle you to my chest.
Thought there would be more of you than this.
Your remains blowing against raindrops,
wet, sticky and stuck to my palms.
I have to wash a part of you
down the public toilets on the pier.

Left clutching an empty urn
and I think to chuck that too.
Crying to the ocean, applause rippling over waves
I wait for your bow. Good luck Jack.
On the edge of the pier in Margate,
a promise kept, and the number seven bus
three minutes late. The only change.

‘Splendid in ashes’
bet you’ve never thrown a friend off a pier.