Phil Vernon

The Widower

The mourners gone, he felt no need
to mark her passing with a stone:
her ashes swirled into the wind
to fly or fall where they’d be blown,

as fields and copses called her name
in silence louder than he’d known,
on hillsides permanently changed,
and paths he’d follow now alone.

He stripped the house on to the lawn –
wallpaper, sofa, tables, phones,
chairs, carpets, clothes – and burned it all:
a perfect pyre of what they’d owned…

and turned his back upon the flames
to pick a single rose she’d grown
then sat and watched its slow decay
for days, within their hollow home.

Phil Vernon has been engaged in development, humanitarian and peacebuilding work for more than thirty years. He lived for several years each in Sudan, Lesotho, Rwanda, Mali, Ghana and Uganda. He returned to his native UK in 2004 and since then has been Director of Programmes at International Alert, a peacebuilding organisation. He lives in West Kent and enjoys family, cross-country running and writing poetry.