Lying for all Eternity in the Long Grass
He leans his elbows on the straight-cut sides,
tells me he used a ladder when he first began –
Who would fancy being stuck down here? he grins.
Now, he says, he jumps – and shows me how,
touching his palms to the sore earth, springing out.
He’s sun-baked like old pots, says that’s what
he often finds down there – fragments mostly.
He takes a flask of tea and offers me.
I shake my head. He lays his spade aside,
perches on a tombstone, motions me to do the same.
I refuse again.
He laughs. They’ll never know, poor sods.
What matters is the living. The dead
are solid weights and it can be a nasty shock,
that thud, so me, I line my graves. Always.
Long grass is best,
especially after heavy rains – no one wants
to hear that splash, that can really set them off,
so I line it good and thick, the box
will drop more gently then.
Later I think of all he said, imagine
lying for all eternity in the long grass,
almost envy the dead their luck.
His file on the pin-wheel’s pivot
sounds its careful scratch:
tick and scratch, scratch and tick,
as the hands on each clock-dial
creep round. Or stick.
On the bench the baffling Arabic
of wheels, gut-lines, springs.
He fits his eye-glass firmly in,
bends to the demanding task
of oil, clean, and mend.
Day shrivels into evening. Outside
a blackbird’s sudden squawk.
Its awkward chime reminds
the clock-restorer it is time.