The Friday Poem on 16/06/23
There’s much to like about ‘Dog-walking in a Cemetery’ by Helen Kay – our Friday Poem this week. The language is precise and economical, and the tone is measured and self-aware. The way the various headstones personify the long dead or the new dead is neat, and the point that we prefer to think of death as something that only happens to old people or other people is nicely made. It’s a thoughtful and tidy poem.
Dog-walking in a Cemetery
The older headstones, snug in lichen
shawls, lean towards me, console.
Do they scent my old friend’s death?
The dog, nose wired to its animal self,
heels, shrugs off an approving pat,
cocks its profanely balletic black leg.
Suddenly, a sharp-edged block
of grey marble confronts me with
the golden dates of a freshly cut life.
A silver heart balloon twists next
to it. An icing pink 40 shies from
the breeze. Even the dog is spooked.
Ears pricked, his head jerks the lead,
echoes the balloon, predicts my instinct
to tug away, afraid of a sudden burst.
We trot back to the grass-tasselled
graves, names eroded, that define
death as green, gentle, anonymous.