I once buried a man whose obituary
appeared in a national newspaper,
but he was not a friend.
He swore at me once
and then cried when he was ill.
Curses and tears are a staple diet
You never swore, nor cried,
all things were taken
with that gentle stoicism.
Your obituary did not catch you.
They never mentioned you digging
Irish new potatoes as darkness fell,
nor frying French mushrooms at vingt-trois heures.
I still have the picture of a rare toadstool,
you made me take, so that there would be a record.
Of what? I am not sure.
Was there a department of rare fungi
in that dreaming city you called home?
It never occurred that we had been friends in four places,
until you were dead, and now there is no-one to tell.
You were different in each place,
the Woodstock treble album in the Lakes
owned by one other than the Aldeburgh-going
Oxford-dwelling, pasta making,
executive chair who made us lunch
one spring day.
It would have been good to have shared one last glass,
but you have gone
and words are wasted
and there is no point in going back
if you are not there.
And you are not there,
of that you were emphatic.