“Past Death” by Stephen Kingsnorth

2022 Pushcart Prize Nominee
2021 Best of the Net Nominee

I did not know her, here laid out,
a careful combing of the hair
not as I’d known it set before –
forehead laid bare, cleared silver strands;
not of my choosing, frame beside.

But father told he wanted this,
a final farewell to his wife,
though he knew, as did I, full-well,
she long had left; this trolley bare,
enforced that spirit flown the room.

By absence seeping beads drawn down –
the knowledge that we paused alone,
skeletal cage deserted now.
And since, the question posed myself –
should I dissuade through queries raised?

Poor memory’s now fixed in place –
this mask should not replace her face;
some say dread visit reinforced
that shock fires mould of empty clay –
unnecessary proof for me.

For him, for his, I dare not say;
the sixty years entitle him
to linger, lose, yet loose again
the bond and knots that tied them close.
And sons accompany past death.

Stephen Kingsnorth (Cambridge M.A., English & Religious Studies), retired to Wales from ministry in the Methodist Church, has had over 180 pieces published by on-line poetry sites, including Sparks of Calliope, printed journals and anthologies.


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