Burned – Bill Richardson

Burned

i.m. Seán

You always were the one to make the most of things.
You set your wit to work on little tales of village life:
the way the postman knew the form
of every greyhound sent to race in Harold’s Cross,
the local pair who kept a hundred cats,
the puzzle of a tarpaulin-covered car never unparked behind the ancient pub.
When you told tales, our hearts warmed to them,
until the last occasion you regaled us, supine in the public ward.

With all your small-town lore and all that faith,
we never thought you’d choose the path of being burned –
but then news came that you had signed up for cremation.
Puzzled looks passed between us, our certainty about your zeal
for Catholic tradition was upended – and with it went
the seeming-solid knowledge of ourselves.

Bill Richardson lives in Galway, Ireland, where he is Emeritus Professor in Spanish at the National University of Ireland Galway. Poems of his have been published in Irish newspapers, Galway ReviewStony Thursday Book and the Fish Anthology 2020.