Nick Grundy

Last Rites

The stiff and stubborn shoes that had at last surrendered
To the graceless contours of her feet,
Together in his work-worn, mortal hands;
They kick the breath out of him now.

He wooed and quickly won the girl, and then,
In time, the wife secured a lasting victory,
Set up her colonies within his rough-edged world,
Gently established his dependency.

The farmhouse bears her character, unmissable
In curtains, carpets, chairs, her shelf of books.
She smiles at him from snapshots, speaks to him
From ticked-off shopping-lists and jotted recipes.

Her loss has frozen all the sap,
Parching his land and leaving him
With blighted fields of jigsaw cracks:
No life, no hope and nowhere firm to stand.

They’ll bring her in the morning, still and cold.
The handshakes, headshakes, then the frosty walk
To chapel, down their courting lanes. He’ll see it through:
The hymns, the hollow prayers, the preacher’s snowflake
words.

For them, he’ll send his empty body there. He’ll stand
Alone amongst the congregation, for the others’ sake.
No ritual could ease his mourning, but, tomorrow,
He’ll be the black and stooping focus for their sorrow.

Nick Grundy was born in central Manchester in the 1950s but grew up mainly on the edge of the
Peak District, where he quickly developed a passion for the local wildlife and landscapes.  He was a teacher and guide in Greek Macedonia and on the island of Crete prior to settling in Nantes (western France) with his French wife, Virginie for over 20 years.

see also Last Rites.mp4