You don’t send Christmas cards to the dead
making up my list I remember them
wishing to see once more perhaps
their ancient faces telling me their news
or sharing mine, joys, sorrows, past times -
You don't send letters to the dead
though it might help not posting them
after all you can say anything now
remembering that old companionship,
fire-light talk, long walks in mountains,
boggy moors in fading light
tea on a verandah in summer
the warm embrace in a cold bed.
Posting a letter in a crack in a tombstone
the lizards enjoy the feast
no gateway to the underworld there.
In far off caverns steaming
the voices of the dead ascend
as gull cries do over echoing cliffs
no way to climb there
where vapours turn to cloud.
Messages for the dead are not so easily delivered
still-born they need a burial too
aching memories in floating bottles
drift the inner oceans of the mind
fetching up on distant shores unannounced
disturbing the natives pontificating there.
Who is it strutting on the shore
in whom such ancient voices sound?
You don’t lift the phone or send an e-mail
to those gone beyond redialling.
Where are they ? We ask
concerned about our own destinations
the long walk to the station and the ever-waiting train.