Pattern

2 February 2001

One gets sick,
the other follows —
and drag out blue irises
and lines by Tennyson,
the only one that really fits:
“We know nothing.”

When they call for a minute’s
silence
there’s always some chicken truck
roaring past,
or a trench digger at work
in the south west corner.
Behind this though,
the sotto backing track of pigeons,
and beside another bed,
a woman in a white hat
bends to sniff a rose.

The infants are restless
and kick against their prams.
The eldest of the tribe,
whose wheelchairs resemble
sturdier versions of the prams,
cast their eyes over
their own future crowd:
the brave, the clever, the mute, the small —
(the funeral director fill in the dots)
“it comes to us all.”

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