The drum

Dreadnought father
felled at a stroke –
inside your head
something broke.

The congregation
held their breath:
your voice stopped short
at the coming of death.

The stretcher bore you
like an oak:
everyone stared,
no one spoke.

They drilled a hole
right through your skull,
but the spirits muttered
all’s not well,

for with one eye open,
the other eye shut,
that mighty brain
had split like a nut

and the serial sevens
ground to a halt
as a last axe blow
cut off thought.

It took eight bearers
all their strength
to lift the box
that held your length.

A great wind carried
away the sound
as the coffin lurched
towards the ground.

I dream at night
you’re back again,
clear as sunlight,
hard as rain.

I try to speak,
to catch your eye,
and same as always
you stride on by.

What did you leave me?
What did I learn?
Your heart can break
but your mind’s your own –

that till the spade
piles earth on wood
there’s a drum in the body,
a fife in the blood.

Beatrice Garland

Share this: