Place wild flowers on my coffin. Let them fade.
Read from such scriptures as you may find
on a page torn from some book I loved
or scribbled on scrap paper. If no bird hymns me,
find a tune among the scratched records in my head.
Bear my coffin on your shoulders. Let it weigh
heavy and hard to manoeuvre. I’ll not glide soundless
from your ken. Carry me to some spot
whose beauty is its scrub, with one misshapen tree
whose hollowed core accepts the final question.
Place my body in the earth. Let it rot.
The soil has many rooms and many families.
Let worms open corridors and introduce me
to the busy thoroughfares which are my ground,
for in my flesh shall I see life.
Gather the tidy concepts. Light the fire.
Let it consume convenient explanation.
Unspin the threads of my biography
and hang the cotton bolls back on the field.
Take what you love. The rest of me is sea.
This poem was a runner-up in the 2013 Manchester Cathedral Poetry Prize, judged by Nicola Slee. (I was invited to Manchester to read it at the festival, and sadly forgot to take my lovely Dawes Galaxy bicycle off the train when I alighted! I never got it back. I hope whoever ended up with it got good use out of it. 531 tubing and all.)