Graham Burchell


I know they ashed my flesh, milled my bones, sealed the
flour of my body
in a casket, and buried it out of sight on the north side of
the churchyard,
to be half sunk flotsam, caught in a wave of tombstone
whose tip and sway through the calm between tempests,
cannot be measured by those who disposed me to

I know it was October. I was ashed but still here.
On a moonlit night I crawled out
feeling damp turf against toes, knees and palms that I no
longer owned.
I sensed without discomfort, a chill washing over skin no
longer worn.
Tongueless, I tasted the air, the turn of leaves about to

I know I was not alone. Others came out of the earth,
looked skyward.
There was light, birdsong, voices.
One brushed dirt from clothes with fingers long since
whispered to dust.
Here stood the assured and the confused, leaning
on lichen-crusted markers of their mortal lives.

I know one had his old moon face buried into folded arms.
dressed in the way of their day, greeted like old pals
across the gap;
a spark between their eternal bed and the next.
Many, like me were naked. Perhaps we were the burned
alternative members of the same occasional club.

I know a young man in a white collarless shirt, reached out
a hand
that was once his own. His other pointed to stone-carved
Charlie, who fell asleep in nineteen nineteen, in his
seventeenth year.
He blinked, not at my nakedness. We didn’t care.
And I know in a far away voice he said, I believe this is
your first?

Graham Burchell lives in Rattery, South Devon. He has four published collections. He has an M.A. in Creative Writing from Bath Spa University. He is a Hawthornden Fellow, 2012 Canterbury Festival Poet of the Year, winner of the 2015 Stanza competition, runner-up in the 2016 BBC Proms poetry
competition and 3 rd place winner in the 2017 Bridport Prize.