The last gesture.

The last gesture.


A dirty ward,

bedsheets unchanged.

It was simple really

the doctors failed you

and we were left

listening as they lied.

But the infection nevertheless

caused your dying to be long,

your body racked with pain.

The helplessness remains.

And when your last breath

had eased away your will

we closed your eyes

with our loss.

And we brought you home,

laying you out in your coffin

on the table in the front room.

It is our custom for the dead

to be brought back,

to be watched over

to be cared for at the last.

To make sure they know

their dying is over

and their souls are loved.

We lit candles at night

and sat with you in vigil

while our children came in

to peer over the wood

of the coffins edge

Is grandad asleep?

Is he really tired?

Does he need to rest?

Is he in heaven now?

And we spoke of him,

of the way he loved them,

so that he could listen too,

and hear the words

chosen to explain

so they would not fear

these final goings and leavings

of something so familiar

we will all face some day,

and in our own time.

You looked small

in that wooden box,

and before they fixed

the lid down, I placed

a bunch of rosemary

and lavender in your hand.



Rob Cullen